Wired 14.03: START: "The M1, based on the same lithium-ion technology used in your cell phone and laptop, is the first product from MIT spinoff A123 Systems. Cofounder Yet-Ming Chiang, a materials science professor, succeeded in shrinking to nanoscale the particles that coat the battery's electrodes and store and discharge energy. The results are electrifying: Power density doubles, peak energy jumps fivefold (the cells pack more punch than a standard 110-volt wall outlet), and recharging time plummets. Going nano also solves a safety problem. Regular high-capacity Li-ion batteries tend to explode under severe stress, like if they're dropped from a ladder.
The rechargeable battery industry, dominated by Asian giants like Sanyo, Sony, and Toshiba, is worth more than $6 billion a year. A123 - whose investors include Motorola, Qualcomm, and the Pentagon's VC arm, OnPoint Technologies - aims to radically expand that market, by both cutting the cords on conventional plug-in tools and home appliances and powering brawny electric versions of everything from lawn mowers to military surveillance drones.
A123's real target, however, is your car. Chiang says A123's cells could lighten a Toyota Prius' 100-pound battery by as much as 80 percent and help boost any hybrid's performance. The quick recharging time - the M1 takes five minutes to reach 90 percent capacity - plus high peak power also would be ideal for plug-in versions of gas-electric vehicles. With a bit more research, the world's roads may someday see fast, zero-carbon autos that zip past gas guzzlers and tank up from the grid faster than a rest-stop Starbucks can serve you a latte. - Spencer Reiss"
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