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Nanowire-Based Battery With Off-The-Charts Charging Power: Is This The Future Of Electronics?

22 April 2016, 10:53 pm EDT By Catherine Cabral-Isabedra Tech Times
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Researchers from University of California, Irvine were able to develop a nanowire-based battery that can be charged and discharged for 200,000 times. If developed further, nanowire batteries can become the future of electronics.  ( Daniel A. Anderson | University of California, Irvine )

Scientists from University of California, Irvine have developed a nanowire-based battery material that allows off-the-charts charging, which may eventually make battery replacement obsolete.

The breakthrough in using nanowires in battery would significantly amp the lifespans of commercial batteries used in appliances, smartphones, computers, cars, and even spacecrafts.

In the past, researchers arranged silicon nanoparticles in lithium-ion batteries to improve its design and capacitive power. The design allowed batteries to have 97 percent capacity after 1,000 cycles of charging and discharging.

For several years, researchers have been working on using nanowire batteries because of their high conductivity and surface area. But, challenges still remain as their filaments are so thin and fragile that repeated cycling causes them to crack.

Using gold nanowire coated with a manganese dioxide shell and placing it in Plexiglas-like gel electrolyte sheathing, UCI researchers were able to make it resistant to cracking and failure.

Mya Le Thai, who led the study, tested the electrode up to 200,000 cycles in a span of three months. During those times, there were no noted capacity loss or nanowire fractures.

"Mya was playing around, and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it," senior author and chair of UCI's Chemistry Department Reginald Penner shared. "She discovered that just by using this gel, she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity."

Penner explained that a standard battery usually breaks or fails after about 7,000 cycles. They think that the gel gives the metal oxide its flexibility, which prevents cracking. Penner said their discovery verifies that nanowire-based batteries indeed have a better lifespan and can soon become a reality.

Since nanowire-based batteries could change the future of electronics - no more battery replacement - smartphones, with their usual battery issues, would finally have something better to offer their consumers. Scaling electronic devices to match the demand would also become possible.

The study is published in the American Chemical Society's Energy Letters.

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