A Battery That Could Last A Lifetime

Poor battery life is the number one complaint when it comes to smartphones and laptops. As a wireless society, having to tether ourselves down to power up our gadgets seems more and more a nuisance. And while researchersare looking intowireless charging,if batteries were betterwe would have to worry less.

Now, a new technology promises just that. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, have invented a nanowire-based battery that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times, a significant leap towards a battery that doesnt require replacing.

Nanowires possess several ideal characteristics for electric storage and transmission. They are highly conductiveand thousands of times thinner than a human hair, which means they can be arranged to provide a large surface area for electron transfer. Unfortunately, nanowires are usually very fragile and dont do well after repeatedcharging anddischarging.

The researchers, whose findings are published in theAmerican Chemical SocietysEnergy Letters, have coated gold nanowires in manganese dioxide and cocooned them in a Plexiglas-like gel. Thiscombination keeps all the propertiesof the nanowires’ intact and makes them resistantto fractures.

Mya Le Thai, the lead study author, has charged and discharged the battery up to 200,000 times without breaking the nanowires and without loss of capacity.

Mya was playing around, and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it, said senior author Reginald Penner, chair of UCIs chemistry department, in a statement. 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 researchers believe that the combination of the PMMA (plexiglass-like) gel electrolyte and the magnesium oxide gives flexibility and structure to the nanowires, preventing crackingand thus extending their operational life.

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.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/new-battery-can-be-recharged-hundreds-thousands-times

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