Nanowire Battery Technology Breakthrough Could Lead To More Durable Smartphones And Other Device Batteries
While some fail to reach their goal of creating something truly amazing, a team of researchers at UC Irvine seems to have done the impossible. While working to create better batteries for our electronics, these researchers managed to develop a makeshift battery with a life so long, it'd always outlive the device it's in.
To accomplish this, the researchers make use of gold nanowires to store electricity, in lieu of using traditional lithium. The reason batteries in our devices die after a while (and the reason so many are rightfully miffed when a smartphone doesn't have a swappable battery) is because wear and tear eventually becomes too much, and it just ceases to work.
Prepare to have your mind blown. In these researchers' tests, their gold nanowire battery quality declined 5% after 200,000 recharge cycles. Not impressed? Consider the fact that people charge their phones once-per-day, so if that 200,000 metric proved true once such a battery is in our devices, you'd be able to recharge it daily for 550 years and take just a mere 5% dent out of it. We'd assume that most people would be happy to upgrade the entire device well before half a millennium has passed (though some still cling to Windows XP, so it's hard to say for sure...)
The kicker is this: the researchers are currently baffled by their creation. The almost absolute lack of degradation so far can be tied to the use of electrolyte gel, which was originally supposed to be the researchers' method of holding a charge. Now, it acts as a coating for the gold nanowires, which is what apparently makes it as durable as it is.
The researchers note that right now, their battery isn't adaptable to a smartphone, but there's no obvious roadblock for that not becoming a reality down the road. If there's going to be one major caveat, it's that even though a battery like this will require very little gold, it'd still bump the price up quite significantly. Paper author Reginald Penner notes that in time, if this technology catches on, gold might be able to be replaced with a metal like nickel. Even if nickel cut down dramatically on the lifespan of this battery design, it's sure to be far greater than any one of us would ever need.