Researchers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) have inadvertently – yes, inadvertently – found a nanowire-centered technology that may result in batteries that may be charged thousands and thousands of times.
A PhD candidate at the university, Mya Le Thai, described that she and her team utilized nanowires, a substance that’s thousands of times finer and thinner than the usual human hair, excessively conductive and has an area big enough to aid the storage and transfer of electrons.
Nanowires are incredibly delicate and they do not often endure nicely to repeated cycling or discharging and charging. They grow and expand fragile in an average lithium-ion battery, but this was set by Le Thai’s group by coating a gold nanowire in a manganese dioxide shell after which putting it in a Plexiglas-like serum to enhance its stability. All by accident.
This technology can lead to laptop, smartphone and tablet batteries that last forever.
Chairman of UCI’s chemistry department, Reginald Penner, stated:
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.”
The battery-like framework was examined over 200,000 times over a three-month span, and also the scientists documented no loss of energy or capacity.
The coated electrode holds its shape much better, making it a more reliable option. This research proves that a nanowire-based battery electrode can have a long lifetime and that we can make these kinds of batteries a reality,” explained Thai.
The breakthrough paves a way for industrial batteries that may last an eternity in vehicles, devices and spacecraft.