In case you hadn't heard, the next big thing in batteries is fast charge and discharge times. One of the main hangups with electric cars is that they take too long to charge. Most people don't want to spend several hours "fueling" their car with electrons after a century of a five minute fill up. Recent advances in battery materials such as lithium titanate (Altair Nanosystems) and lithium iron phosphate (A123 Systems) have allowed the development of batteries that can charge in a matter of minutes instead of hours. This is all dependent on you power source, of course, but Aerovironment has demonstrated a charging system capable of a ten minute charge that can propel a vehicle 120 miles.
Now comes news from MIT that Byoungwoo Kang and Gerbrand Ceder have developed an even better battery. Lithium iron phosphate was not reaching its full potential. Having found that lithium ion mobility was not the bottleneck, but that there was not sufficient surface area for the ions to get into the electrolyte from the electrode, they devised a new electrode shape that brings the cell into a higher power region. The battery can now charge in as little as 9 seconds according to their work just published in this week's Nature. This is one of the greatest discoveries in recent battery history, since it is not only a high rate capability battery, but one that can be produced with little to no change in production infrastructure.