Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have recently invented a battery that can be charged hundreds of thousands of times, perhaps even lasting forever.
Nanowire batteries use wires that are thousands of times thinner than a single strand of human hair. In the past, these wires were too fragile to function for extended periods of time, but researchers have solved this problem by coating the wires in a manganese dioxide shell and encasing it all in an electrolyte made from a Plexiglas-like gel.
Tests proved that these encased nanowires could be recharged as many as 200,000 times over a span of three months without any loss of function. Scientists are saying that a smartphone battery using this technology could have a lifespan of over 500 years.
Reginald Penner, chair of UCI’s chemistry department was overseeing doctoral candidate Mya Le Thai when she made the discovery.
“Mya was playing around and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it,” Penner said. “She discovered that just by using this gel, she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity.”
“The coated electrode holds its shape much better, making it a more reliable option,” said Thai. “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.”
Big tech companies have been working on creating a better battery for years now, but none have been able to combat the regular wear and tear that breaks down standard lithium ion batteries over time. It currently takes an iPhone 6 one hour and 50 minutes to charge, which can be inconvenient for smartphone users. With the introduction of Thai’s recent discovery, it is looking more and more likely that a stronger, faster battery is on the horizon.