Whoops! Researchers at UC Irvine “accidentally” create a battery with virtually no limit to recharge cycles

Imagine a battery that could live up to 400 times longer than today’s power cells. Now, imagine making that discovery while trying to develop something else.

That is what researchers from the University of California, Irvine published last month in the American Chemical Society Letters. While looking at alternative designs to today’s current lithium-ion batteries, a team discovered not only a solid-state design, but a set-up that managed to cycle through 200,000 charges.

When you consider that the most robust batteries today can manage maybe 7,000 charges, this discovery is pretty significant. Originally, the team was looking at battery designs that did not rely on liquid to hold a charge. That is one of the reasons why lithium batteries have so many restrictions for shipping and storage, because of their liquid content, making them temperature sensitive and combustible.

In lieu of liquid, the team used an electrolyte gel, and combined it with gold nanowires instead of lithium to store the electricity. As experiments proceeded, the design was found to be far more pliant than any battery system in use today.

While the use of nanowires in general is not new to batteries, in current lithium systems they grow brittle over time, eventually breaking and losing ability hold power – hence a measurable and foreseeable cycle limit. However, the gold “shell” used in the experimental nanowires keep them from growing brittle and thus continue to handle charging cycles well beyond any projections.

During three months of testing, and 200,000 charging cycles, the team at UC Irvine saw no reduction in charge capacity, or observe any damage inside the battery.

This does not have any immediate impact for us at the consumer level, we have shared news about apparent battery breakthroughs before. From “non-flammable” lithium ion cells, to “new discoveries,” and “new technologies.” Indeed, better batteries, and battery life in general, are a unicorn in an area where we have seen very slow progress over the years.

via: Science Hook

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