Ever get frustrated with the battery for your smartphone or laptop? Who doesn’t? No matter how good a battery is, its life span is limited.
Researchers at the University of California-Irvine (UCI) have developed a breakthrough in battery technology that could revolutionize the battery-powered device industry, and it happened by accident.
According to the university, they have developed “nanowire-based battery material that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times, moving us closer to a battery that would never require replacement.”
While scientists have thought for years that nanowires could basically reinvent the battery, nanowires are also notoriously fragile. Nanowires are thousands of times thinner than human hair, so working with them can be nearly impossible without the proper care.
UCI said that the nanowires are like “extremely fragile” filaments that don't react well to repeat charges or discharges.
However, UCI recently discovered a process in which they could protect the nanowires:
UCI researchers have solved this problem by coating a gold nanowire in a manganese dioxide shell and encasing the assembly in an electrolyte made of a Plexiglas-like gel. The combination is reliable and resistant to failure.
Mya Le Thai, the leader of the study and a UCI doctoral candidate, tested the possible innovation 200,000 times over a three-month period. The tests showed no breaks or cracks in the nanowire while not losing any “capacity or power.”
Senior author Reginald Penner told the UCI website:
Mya was playing around, and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it. She discovered that just by using this gel, she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity. That was crazy because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most.
We'll have to see whether this breakthrough makes future commercial batteries “keep going...and going...and going...”
To see the process for yourself, watch below: