Lifetime! Isn’t it an amazing word to hear? Hard to believe right! Nothing comes with 100% efficiency, not that something we know of. All kinds of electrical devices that we know are made to have a limited lifetime which perfectly serves the interests of the consumerist society we live in. Just think about it: if all home appliances and electronic devices we use daily were designed to last, would we need to constantly buy new ones?
Talking about the battery, even the best performing Lithium-ion batteries can work up to 500 charge cycles max, after which they lose their capacity and need to be replaced. Now researchers led by doctoral candidate Mya Le Thai of the University of California have seem to be created a battery with a lifespan of 200,000 charge cycle, which is 400% more than the Lithium batteries available in the market.
Story behind the invention
The remarkable invention was a mere result of an accident in the lab. Reginald penner of the University of California said in a press release that ” Mya was playing around and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer. they started to cycle it. She discovered that just by using gel, she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity.”
How it works?
Initially the goal was to develop a solid-state battery making some changes like using gold nanowires instead of lithium and an electrolyte gel instead of liquid, so as to overcome the drawbacks of Lithium batteries which are: the liquid in them makes them combustible and sensitive to temperature while lithium itself corrodes inside the battery over time. So, researchers were seeking an improved version of what we have today, of the conventional battery.
Nanowires are highly conductive but also extremely fragile. However, when they were coated in manganese dioxide with the addition of electrolyte gel, the system was found to be far more resilient than any other known battery systems.
No doubt this new battery have to be recharged; but the point is it’s extra-ordinary 200,000 charge cycle is more than enough to cover the lifespan of most of the devices, computers and even vehicles. The best part, it doesn’t lose its capacity compared to the conventional lithium batteries that we have in market. The researchers have been testing the new battery for three months and it was found to have lost only 5% of its capacity! Just imagine if your 5-year-old laptop held a charge the same well as if you bought it just yesterday!
The problem is that the researchers haven’t fully understood the mechanism of the system yet. Also, the battery hasn’t been tested with some kind of device to make sure that it can potentially be used in consumer electronics. The high cost of gold nanowires being used is a concern and researchers are having experiments with nickel to see if they can achieve the same (or similar) level of efficiency.
However, the result of the research looks promising and can bring revolution to the vision what we see today towards the conventional batteries, and can be a whole new-level substitute to it.