Bruce Dunn, UCLA professor of materials science and engineering, is leading research on safer lithium ion batteries.

Dunn, one the country’s top experts on battery technology, was recently interviewed in a KNBC story on a laptop that caught fire. In the story, he noted that lithium ion batteries could catch fire from a manufacturing defect, or from abuse such as being dropped on the floor and punctured.
Dunn also gave a few tips to prevent battery overheating including charging devices on a hard surface to let heat dissipate.

The full story is here: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/investigations/I-Team-Investigation-Battery-Lithium-Ion-Fire-Laptop-Computer-412459303.html.