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Fast Charging Battery Invented by Chao-Yang Wang Group.

Lithium ions (yellow orbs) race between the electrodes (stacked plates) at either end of a lithium battery in this artist’s impression. Such batteries can be quickly replenished if heated to a toasty temperature. Credit: Chao-Yang Wang

Energy

Electric-car batteries recharge in ten minutes when the heat is on

A high temperature allows fast charging of the lithium batteries used in electric and hybrid vehicles.

A lithium car battery can power a 320-kilometre drive after just 10 minutes of charging — as long as its temperature is hiked up to 60 °C while it is replenished.

Lithium batteries, which use lithium ions to create a current, charge slowly at room temperature. Charging can take two to three hours, making for a road trip that lasts far too long.

To solve that problem, Chao-Yang Wang and his colleagues at Pennsylvania State University in University Park heated a lithium battery to 60 °C, which allowed the researchers to charge the battery at a high rate in just 10 minutes.

High-rate charging usually encourages the lithium to coat, or plate, one of the battery’s electrodes, blocking the flow of energy and eventually rendering the battery useless. But pre-heating the battery allows fast charging without plating.

A commercial battery charged with the team’s high-temperature, high-speed system retained 80% of its capacity after 1,700 charge–discharge cycles. A battery charged at room temperature could only handle the fast charging for 60 cycles before its electrode became plated.

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Pulsar wind nebula illustration

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Astronomy and astrophysics

X-rays expose a clue to the mystery of the missing neutron star

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A bone fragment next to a dime

A bone fragment excavated in Southeast Alaska belonged to one of the earliest known domestic dogs in the Americas. Credit: Douglas Levere/University at Buffalo

Genomics

An ancient Alaskan dog’s DNA hints at an epic shared journey

To scientists’ surprise, a 10,000-year-old bone found in an Alaskan cave belonged to a domestic dog — one of the earliest known from the Americas.
Emissions billow from smokestacks at a coal-fired power plant as the sun sets, India.

Black carbon emitted by power plants and other sources in Asia wafts to the Arctic, where the pollution accelerates the melting of ice and snow. Credit: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg/Getty

Atmospheric science

Soot from Asia travels express on a highway to the high Arctic

Black carbon from fuel combustion in South Asia bolsters the effects of climate change on northern ice and snow.
Prevotella copri bacteria, computer illustration

The gut bacterium Prevotella copri (artist’s impression) has been linked to a reduction in the health benefits of a diet that skimps on red meat in favour of fish and vegetables. Credit: Kateryna Kon/Science Photo Library

Microbiology

Trying a Mediterranean diet? Gut microbes might sway the outcome

The composition of a person’s microbiome could influence the health effects of swapping steak for vegetables and olive oil.
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