The lithium-ion batteries in our cellphones, laptops, and (present and future) electric cars might be in for a pretty serious makeover. A current limitation of these batteries is that they're slow to charge and discharge. But in the latest issue of Nature, researchers at MIT describe how they designed a special lithium-phosphate crystal that allows these batteries to convey a charge much more quickly. New Scientistsummarizes:"If cellphone batteries can be made using the material, they could charge in 10 seconds flat, the researchers calculate. Bigger batteries for plug-in hybrid electric cars could charge in just five minutes-compared with about eight hours for existing batteries-though this would require a very high-powered charger."Being able to charge an electric car in five minutes would let you fill it up like you would at a gas station rather than having to keep your car plugged in overnight. That would really help people fit electric cars into their established routines. And, I imagine, this new technology would make batteries practical for a whole range of new applications.For more detail, check out Ars Technica's more technical description.