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You could soon talk on your mobile phone for much longer between battery recharge sessions, thanks to some nifty research from Tottori University in Japan. If the breakthrough gains commercial acceptance, the life of a lithium ion (Li-Ion) battery could be 30 times as long. Li-Ion batteries have a cobalt oxide cathode and an anode made of graphite. The researchers, led by Takao Esaka, found that the life of a battery was considerably extended if the graphite anode is replaced with one made of magnesium and tin. The reason for the improvement is elegant and simple. The magnesium version has a more cracked surface, hence displaying a larger surface area than its graphite equivalent. The denser material can store three times as much energy, gram for gram, making it 30 times more efficient over all. The new style battery would have applications beyond the laptop and mobile phone. Esaka says he is working with Panasonic to create a longer lasting battery for electric vehicles, but he is uncertain about production dates. ®

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