Why electronics, like Galaxy Notes, are exploding

BOSTON — Samsung now says it has collected more than 60-percent of all the Galaxy Note7 phones sold in the U.S. and South Korea.

A worldwide recall of the phones was issued earlier this month because the batteries can start fires while charging.

The company plans to release a new version of the phone at the end of this week.

But it's not just phones - over the weekend, a delta airlines flight was diverted when a tablet burst into flames. Last Christmas' must-have was the hoverboard, which was banned by airlines after many of them caught fire. There have also been numerous stories of e-cigarettes exploding and burning smokers.

All of these items are powered by lithium batteries.

Wentworth assistant engineering professor Aaron Carpenter showed FOX25 what happens on the inside of a phone, just before it bursts into flames.

To do that, he forced the short circuit of a AA battery. Just like the batteries found in a smart phone, there's a positive side and a negative side.

When they're able to connect, there’s fire.

The battery inside many electronic devices is a much stronger is a lithium ion. There’s a thin piece of plastic that helps protect the battery from fire.

When that thin piece of plastic breaks down, the chemicals on either side react, and then there are flames.

Carpenter told FOX25 there are two reasons why it happens. In the case of the Samsung recall, it's a manufacturing error.

In the case of hover boards, it's likely that the toy has been banged around, cracking the battery's separator.

Carpenter says scientist are always working to make batteries more powerful.

"Everyone wants to be able to have their phone last longer and charge faster,” he said.

Ramping up that ability means scientist are constantly tinkering with strong chemicals, powering dozens of items we use every day.

"As things are getting more compressed and concentrated, we're more likely to have these kinds of issues,” she said.

Carpenter says the chance of catastrophic failure is actually very small, less than one in 1 million.