Scientists believe to have found a way to make everlasting batteries, one you can charge and discharge hundreds of thousands of times without losing capacity. The best part is – they seem to have done it by accident.
According to a paper published last week, PhD candidate at the University of California at Irvine, Mya Le Thai, played around with battery technology before accidentally stumbling upon this, potentially revolutionary discovery.
Mya Le Thai used nanowires, which are thinner than human hair but not really known for being able to hold charges very well. But, if you coat a gold nanowire in a manganese dioxide shell, and then put it in a Plexiglas-like gel, you get a much more stabile product, capable of being charged and discharged countless times.
Richard Penner, chairman of UCI's chemistry department explained Computing how this came to be:
"She discovered that just by using this gel she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity. That was crazy, because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most."
It took the team three months of research to reach 200,000 cycles. No loss of capacity.
"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."
The media are already talking how this discovery could lead to longer lasting batteries in cars, spacecraft and other devices.