One of the worst things about batteries may soon be fixed thanks to a new innovation from the University of California. Scientists studying battery materials have invented a nanowire that can be used to create batteries that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times, potentially fixing one of the most annoying things about batteries.
Regardless of how sophisticated a gadget is, it’s only as good as its battery. Batteries degrade over time, and the older they get, the less of a charge they can hold, requiring more frequent recharging.
But scientists have now devised a way to protect nanowires in batteries from degradation. They did it by coating a gold nanowire in a manganese dioxide shell, and then encasing the entire assembly in an electrolyte that’s made of Plexiglass-like gel, according to Phys.org.
The electrode was cycled up to 200,000 times over the course of three months without showing any loss of capacity and without fracturing the nanowires. Comparatively, a laptop or smartphone battery can be recharged a few hundred times before losing the maximum charge it can hold.
“The coated electrode holds its shape much better, making it a more reliable option,” UCI doctoral candidate Mya Le 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.”
It’s not clear when this battery breakthrough will be used in commercial products, but the full study is available in the American Chemical Society’s Energy Letters.