The word ‘game-changer’ has been banded around quite a few times in 2016, but this latest development is seriously the real deal.
Get ready to say goodbye to that frustrating moment when your phone runs out of juice within a matter of hours, as scientists have managed to accidentally work out a way to make batteries last forever. No joke.
The researchers at the University of California at Irvine were just messing around with a gel when they realised that by coating the brittle component in batteries in a shell they can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times and not lose any power.
So many discoveries have been simply stumbled upon by mistake in the past, but this could genuinely be one of the greatest.
That’s because it could could lead to laptop, phone and tablet batteries that last forever and it might also benefit cars and spacecraft.
Apparently the components within batteries don’t deal too well with charging in your bog standard lithium battery and start to wear out after roughly 7,000 cycles.
But with this new manganese dioxide shell they managed to lose no power, despite the fact it was cycled an incredible 200,000 times in just three months.
And the person to thank for this breakthrough? A Phd student no less. Mya Le Thai was apparently just ‘playing around’ according to Reginald Penner – chairman of UCI’s chemistry department – when she coated the wires in a thin gel layer.
Speaking to The Inquirer, he said:
She discovered that just by using this gel she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity. That was crazy, because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most.
Mya claimed that this thin coat managed to help the nanowire electrode maintain its shape better and therefore making it more reliable.
This research proves that a nanowire-based battery electrode can have a long lifetime and that we can make these kinds of batteries a reality.
There’s no doubt that the prospect of buying a phone which could generally last for years and years is an exciting one.
Though it’s difficult to imagine this discovery going down well with technology giants like Apple. How else are they going to convince people to buy a new phone every few months?