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Scientists Invented A Nanowire-Based Battery Capable of Being Recharged Endlessly

First Posted: Apr 22, 2016 06:34 AM EDT
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Irvine researchers from the University of California invented a nanowire-based battery that could last a lifetime. The nanowire-battery can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times without the need for replacement. The invention could lead to lengthened lifespan of commercial batteries for spacecrafts, computers, smartphones, cars and appliances.

Science Daily reports that the study was led by Reginald Penner, the senior author of the study and the chair of UCI's Chemistry Department and Mya Le Thai, the lead author of the study and UCI doctoral candidate. The findings were printed in the American Chemical Society's Energy Letters.

Thai has cycled the testing electrode up to 200,000 times for more than three months without finding any loss of power and capacity and without cracking the nanowires. "Mya was playing around, and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it," said Penner. He said that Mya discovered that using the gel could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity. He further said that these things typically die after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most and he was surprised by the discovery.

The researchers contemplate that the goo plasticizes the metal oxide in the battery. This gives it a flexibility that prevents it from cracking.

Thai explained that the coated electrode holds the shape much better. "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."

The nanowire is also known as nanostructure, which is about thousands of times thinner than a human hair. It is also described as the ratio of the length to width being more than 1000. There are different types of nanowires. These include the superconducting, metallic, semiconducting and the insulating. Nanowires can be used for electronic devices such as transistors and for sensing of chemicals and proteins.

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