Researchers at the University of California at Irvine said that’s exactly what they were doing when they discovered how to increase the tensile strength of nanowires that could be used to make lithium-ion batteries last virtually forever.
Researchers have pursued using nanowires in batteries for years because the filaments, thousands of times thinner than a human hair, are highly conductive and have a large surface area for the storage and transfer of electrons.
The researchers believe the gel plasticizes the metal oxide in the battery and gives it flexibility, preventing cracking.
Thai, the study’s leader, cycled the nanowire-enhanced electrode up to 200,000 times over three months without detecting any loss of capacity or power and without fracturing any nanowires.
“All nanowire capacitors can be extended from 2000 to 8000 cycles to more than 100,000 cycles, simply by replacing a liquid electrolyte with a… gel electrolyte,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
The result: commercial batteries that could last a lifetime in computers, smartphones, appliances, cars and spacecraft.
“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.”