Science never ceases to amaze us. With each passing day, there are discoveries that hold the potential to change the way we live and think. Some of these discoveries are the result of years of research, others come about completely by accident. Whichever the case, these innovations are a great leap towards a better future for all mankind.
Researchers from the University of California-Irvine have managed to develop a battery that could last up to 400 times longer than any other battery available on the market.
The weird thing is: the discovery was completely accidental. The researchers were trying to find an alternative to lithium, whose liquid state helps conduct charge but is, at the same time, highly combustible and sensitive to temperature.
Their nanowire-based battery material can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times, which means we are one step closer to having batteries that would never require replacement. Awsome, right?
By using gold nanowires to store electricity, the scientists found that their newly developed system could cycle through 200,000 recharges without any significant corrosion or decline. These results are jaw-dropping even thought the research is still in its early stages and a lot more needs to be done.
What is most astounding, is the fact that they bassically stumbled upon this amazing discovery. What they wanted to make in the first place was a solid-state battery that uses electrolyte gel instead of liquid to help it hold charge.
According to study leader, UCI doctoral candidate Mya Le Thai, they coated a gold nanowire in a manganese dioxide shell and encased the assembly in an electrolyte made of a Plexiglas-like gel.
“Mya was playing around, and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it,” said Penner, chair of UCI’s chemistry department.
“She discovered that just by using this gel, she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity.”
“That was crazy,” he added, “because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most.”
“The coated electrode holds its shape much better, making it a more reliable option,” Thai said.
“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.”
In a nutshell, this new design allowed batteries to have 97% capacity after 1.000 cycles of charging and discharging. However, due to the high price of gold, the scientists state that nickel could be the perfect substitute for gold for mass production.
The discovery could lead to the development of batteries that could last forever so you never have to worry about recharging your laptops, phones and anything else that requires batteries to run.
According to the official announcement, the study was conducted in coordination with the Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage Energy Frontier Research Center at the University of Maryland, with funding from the Basic Energy Sciences division of the U.S. Department of Energy.