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energy bunnies

There's a battery on the way that could change everything...

Researchers at a California university have come up with a battery that lasts at least 40 times longer than your average smartphone power unit.

4591869543_721d1c9967_o James Almond James Almond

BATTERIES. COULD WE live without them? Life would be a deal trickier that’s for sure.

The big problem with present-day batteries is that they simply don’t last very long, particularly in a modern era of energy-guzzling smartphone monsters.

The demand for longer-lasting batteries can’t be overstated – the world will be a very different place when that technology arrives (think electric cars for one small example). And that technology may not be as far off as you might think.

Researchers at the University of California Irvine (UCI) have developed a new technology that could see a battery last up to 200,000 charging cycles. For reference, your standard lithium ion battery can cope with between 5,000 and 7,000 charges before performance starts to dip.

But this battery isn’t lithium ion – it’s nanowire. Nanowires have been around for some time but haven’t made it into the public consciousness due to their known brittleness, despite the fact they possess greater power than your tradition lithium ion unit, and can store more energy.

Martha Heil / YouTube

No longer, UCI Phd student Mya Le Thai designed a gel electrolyte (a substance in all batteries that creates an electrically conducting solution) as a “more affordable” alternative to the liquid version used in most batteries.

When Mya’s gel was applied to a gold nanowire however, a functioning battery resulted that was found to be incredibly resistant to the degradation normally associated with repeat charging.

In essence, an alternative to lithium ion batteries may have been arrived at by accident. But what a happy accident.

The result is a case of “hard work combined with serendipity” according to the project’s Reginald Penner.

“The coated electrode holds its shape much better, making it a more reliable option,” says Thai herself.

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 UCI study was recently published in the American Chemical Society’s Energy Letters, lending it the stamp of academic authority.

all-powered-up Mya Le Thai with her revolutionary gel electrolyte Steve Zylius / University of California Irivine Steve Zylius / University of California Irivine / University of California Irivine

Right now the plan is to understand the mechanisms of how this gel electrolyte could prolong the cyclibility so well,” Thai told Tech Insider.

The future bigger plan would be to optimize these gel electrolytes to see if it can improve even more.

Read: 5 apps worth downloading this week

Read: Android doesn’t look like it’s any closer to solving its biggest problem

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