Perhaps the most frustrating limitation of owning an all-electric car is how long it takes to fully charge the battery. For a Tesla, for example, it takes about 40 minutes to charge it to 80% capacity using the most powerful charging station.

Scientists have long thought the laws of physics limited how fast you could safely recharge a battery, but new research by University of Utah chemical engineering assistant professor Tao Gao has opened the door to creating a battery that can be recharged in just a fraction of the time.

Gao’s research was detailed in a new paper published in the scientific journal Joule. The study was conducted while Gao was a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the supervision of MIT chemical engineering professor Martin Z. Bazant. Gao is now carrying on that research at the University of Utah where he is further developing advanced lithium-ion batteries capable of fast charging.

“This understanding lays the foundation for the future engineering work needed to address this challenge,” says Gao. “Now we know where to go. We have a clear vision of what needs to be done.”

Lithium-ion batteries have become a popular choice for portable electronics and all-electric vehicles because of their high energy density, low weight and long life. They are also used in laptop computers, portable electric appliances and for solar energy storage.

Read more: Electric cars: Recharge your batteries