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Fast-charging batteries will power your gadgets for 20 years

Fast-charging batteries are all nice and good, but the lifespan matters, too -- why should you have to replace power packs (or entire devices) every couple of years ? You may not have to give up performance or longevity if researchers at Nanyang Technology University have their way. They've developed new lithium ion batteries that can reach a 70 percent charge in two minutes, but should also last for over 20 years -- several times longer than the cells in your current laptop or smartphone. The trick is using titanium dioxide nanotubes for the anode (the negative pole) instead of graphite; they both speed up the battery's chemical reactions while offering 10,000 charging cycles instead of the usual 500.

There's no definite timetable for when upgraded batteries could reach shipping products, but the mini titanium tubes are both easy to make and relatively inexpensive. They could make a big impact on the technology world when they arrive, though. On a basic level, they could eliminate forced obsolescence for some devices -- you might only replace them when they no longer meet your needs, not because they can't hold a charge. They could have a particularly large impact on electric cars -- you could top up your battery in minutes, not hours, and avoid replacing a very expensive component before you're ready to replace the vehicle itself.