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Lithium batteries very frequently power our gadgets, but the material itself isn't common and, by extension, isn't cheap. Researchers at the Tokyo University of Science aim to solve that through sodium-ion batteries using a new electrode material. By mixing together oxides of iron, manganese and sodium, Shinichi Komaba and team have managed to get a sodium battery's electrode holding a charge closer to that of a lithium-ion battery while using a much more abundant material. Having just 30 total charges means this simplest form of sodium-ion battery technology could be years away from finding a home in your next smartphone or EV, although it's not the only option. Argonne National Laboratory's Chris Johnson has co-developed a more exotic vanadium pentoxide electrode that could produce 200 charges while keeping the battery itself made out of an ingredient you more often find in your table salt than your mobile gear.

[Image credit: Hi-Res Images of Chemical Elements]

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New metal mix could lead to cheap, plentiful sodium-ion batteries in gadgets