Aluminum-Ion Battery Could be a Smartphone Game Changer

Metals technology takes the stage in today’s MetalCrawler report. Researchers may have made a breakthrough in aluminum battery technology and, over in the make-believe world of “Game of Thrones,” metallurgists have some nits to pick with how the books at television show describe super-strong Valyrian steel and the process that makes it.

Fast-Charging Battery

A team of researchers at Stanford University has built an aluminum-ion battery prototype which offers several improvements over today’s ubiquitous lithium-ion batteries, including super-fast charging times.

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The battery charges in about a minute for a battery the size of a normal smartphone battery, is long lasting and offers safety advantages over lithium cells given the materials used are less volatile and do not catch fire if perforated. Aluminum-ion batteries could result in safer consumer electronics in future that also charge faster and can have thinner or even flexible form factors

Folding Steel Doesn’t Make it Stronger

In the latest of the American Chemical Society‘s Reaction videos, cosplayer and science geek Ryan Consell dives into the chemistry behind Valyrian steel, a rare and treasured material in the “Game of Thrones” universe. Forged with dragon fire, the super-sharp, super-light and super-strong blades are mysterious even to those who wield them… and to metallurgists.

George R.R. Martin describes Valyrian steel as being beautifully swirled, and his characters frequently say that its mixed color comes from being folded thousands of times. This is probably a reference to real-world Damascus steel, which has a similar appearance (and which we’ve also lost the forging recipe for).

The problem is that this folding isn’t actually a sign of good steel.

“Folding metal and forging it out doesn’t do anything good for a blade. It’s actually bad for it. Every fold adds inclusions into the material; bits of oxide, soot, sand and other impurities from the environment would work their way in and mess up the steel,” Consell wrote on his blog.

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