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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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Microbiome

Microbes in Neanderthals’ mouths reveal their carb-laden diet

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Composite image of microscopes by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek

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Microscopy

The secret origins of Van Leeuwenhoek’s famous microscopes

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Artist's concept of NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft entering interstellar space

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Astronomy and astrophysics

Voyager 1 captures faint ripples in the stuff between the stars

The first spacecraft to visit interstellar space has now become the first to make continuous measurements of waves in that remote realm.
Light micrograph of a human egg cell during fertilisation

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Developmental biology

The error-prone step at the heart of making an embryo

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Satellite image of broken iceberg B-44.

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Climate change

Antarctic rocks on the rebound could raise sea level much more than expected

When the ice covering the west of the continent disappears, the bedrock could rise up and shove extra water into the ocean.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, Costa Rica

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Conservation biology

Forests that float in the clouds are drifting away

Tropical cloud forests are safe havens for a vast range of creatures and plants, but they are under siege around the globe.
Illustration of a brown dwarf

A rapidly spinning brown dwarf (pictured, artist’s impression) tends to have narrow atmospheric bands; the faster the spin, the thinner the bands. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Astronomy and astrophysics

Dim stars that have failed at fusion are masters of spin

Three brown dwarfs whirl on their axes at a dizzying rate that might be close to the celestial speed limit for these bodies.
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