Researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) have made a breakthrough that can possibly end the concept of ‘throwing away a battery’ forever. Using gold and some new-fangled materials, the team has built a nanowire battery that maintains its performance after hundreds of thousands of charging cycles, inhabitat reported.
This breakthrough can lead to batteries with greatly lengthened lifespans for computers, smartphones, cars, and even spacecrafts. UCI researchers have solved this problem by accidentally coating a gold nanowire in a manganese dioxide shell and encasing the assembly in an electrolyte made of a Plexiglas-like gel.
The study leader, UCI doctoral candidate Mya Le Thai, was having a regular day in her lab, mixing work with play. While exploring, she coated a testing electrode with a very thin gel layer and started to test it. She soon discovered that just by using this gel, she could cycle an electrode more than 200,000 times without losing any capacity, meaning the battery made of such an electrode will practically never die. The best of the electrodes available today die after 7,000 cycles.
The combination has been tested to be reliable and resistant to failure. The researchers think that coating plasticizes the metal oxide in the battery and gives it flexibility, preventing cracking. “The coated electrode holds its shape much better, making it a more reliable option,” Thai told phys.org. “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,” she added.
The technology is currently a lab-based experiment, but it has raised hopes for all of us. Imagine a new breed of rechargeable batteries that never need to be replaced. Imagine a world where batteries are not dangerous environmental waste, but an inbuilt component of our laptops, like it’s RAM or processor.