Smartphones, tablets, plus other electronics rely on rechargeable batteries, but after a few thousand uses, the batteries start to lose their ability to hold a charge. These batteries are mainly lithium, and over time that lithium corrodes inside the battery.
Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have built a battery that uses gold nanowire in electrolyte gel, instead of lithium. On its test, the battery lost only 5% battery capacity in just more than 200,000 charge cycles.
It has long been theorized that nanowires can be a dream battery material since they have a high surface area and can hold huge amounts of electric charge. These wires have very thin structures, but have high conductivity. Their large surface areas are perfect for the transmission and storage of electrons.
According to Popular Science, nanowires have been in the discussions of tech geeks for years because their high surface area holds a lot of charge, but the wire corrodes in traditional lithium environments after several thousand cycles.
The researchers discovered they were able to prevent that corrosion while messing around with the different materials. They coated the gold nanowire they were using in manganese dioxide and swapped the lithium for an electrolyte gel.
The gel and oxide fuse to form a protective covering of the wire, and the experimental battery was able to through hundreds of thousands of cycles over a period of three months without detectable degradation.
They haven’t tested it yet, but they theorize that nickel could be a good substitute.