The lithium-ion battery has made our modern phones, laptops, and electric cars possible. The secret is its ability to cram a lot of power into a tiny package, but for its inventor John B Goodenough, that wasn't good enough. Nearly 40 years after he helped create a battery that would change the world, Goodenough and researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have announced they've invented a new battery that sounds too good to be true.
Goodenough has a few issues with his old lithium-ion battery. It's still too weak, too expensive, and has the pesky habit of exploding from time to time. If a battery is charged too quickly, lithium tends to slowly build up through the liquid electrolyte in long thin whiskers called dendrites. If the dendrites get long enough to connect the positive and negative electrodes of the battery, they can cause a short and you've got a surprise fireworks show in your pants.
So for the last few years Goodenough has wanted to make a battery with a solid electrolyte instead of a liquid one. Two years ago he found the research of Portuguese physicist Maria Helena Braga. Braga and a colleague had invented a glass electrolyte, which means no dendrites, no shorts, no pants on fire. Braga and Goodenough have been working together in Austin ever since and the new battery they've come up with is unlike anything anyone's seen before.
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