Some day, your restroom break may be enough time to charge your [insert nifty gadget here] halfway. A group of researchers at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory has discovered that nanotubes composed of titanium dioxide can switch their phase as a battery is cycled, gradually boosting their operational capacity. The upshot: laboratory tests showed that new batteries produced with this material could be rejuvenated to 50 percent of their maximum charge in less than 30 seconds. This was accomplished by replacing conventional graphite anodes with titanium nanotube andodes. Following the experiment, lead researcher Tijana Rajh and her colleagues noted that as the battery cycled through several charges and discharges, its internal structure began to orient itself in a way that dramatically improved the battery's performance. Furthermore, using anodes composed of titanium dioxide instead of graphite could improve the reliability and safety of lithium-ion batteries and help avoid scenarios in which the lithium can deposit on the graphite anodes, causing a dangerous chain reaction known as "thermal runaway." Copious amounts of related technobabble can be found in the links below, and there's a video just past the break, too.

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New nanotube battery technology leads to blisteringly fast recharges, improved safety features