New gel coating makes rechargeable nanowire batteries last forever

first_imgMost of the work being done on batteries is about increasing the capacities and charging time, but researchers at the University of California, Irvine have developed a battery that addresses another pain point. The system designed by doctoral candidate Mya Le Thai can be cycled hundreds of thousands of times without wearing out, which could lead to a battery that never needs to be replaced.The experimental battery is composed of gold nanowires, which have been a favorite topic of study for energy researchers. These structures, which are thousands of times thinner than a human hair, have extremely high conductivity and surface area, making them ideal for the transfer and storage of electrons. The problem has always been that gold nanowires wear out quickly when used in conventional lithium-ion systems.A standard lithium-ion battery like the one in your phone begins to show degradation of the electrodes after a few hundred cycles. Even under laboratory conditions, the best you can get is a few thousand cycles before things start breaking down. Thai mitigated this by coating gold nanowires with a manganese dioxide shell. This electrolyte has a gel-like consistency that appears to stabilize the nanowires and prevents them from breaking down.Thai tested the battery when encased in gel, and found that it completed 200,000 discharge cycles in the space of a few months with no loss of capacity. Many devices have moved to embedded batteries that are not user-replaceable. With most other components entirely solid-state, the battery is often the first thing to wear out. You can either pay to have the cell replaced or just throw the phone away. A battery that doesn’t wear out could lead to less e-waste and happier consumers. Give it a few years, and maybe this technology will be suitable for commercialization.last_img

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