Researchers created a battery that lasts 400 times longer than normal, they're just not sure how they did it

Contributed by
Apr 22, 2016, 11:47 AM EDT

A team of researchers at UC Irvine were trying to create a solid-state battery with gold nanowires and accidentally stumbled upon a design capable of lasting 400 times longer than a traditional battery.

Normal batteries start to corrode with each use and charge every few thousand cycles, but this design by the UC Irvine team was cycled 200,000 times without any significant corrosion or decline in efficiency. The gold nanowires in the new design were used to store electricity, instead of the typical lithium that runs most tech batteries. Considering how pretty much everything runs off of batteries these days, increasing the efficiency exponentially could have mind-boggling applications in the real world.

But here’s the weird part: The researchers don’t actually know why the design is so much more efficient. Reginald Penner, a lead author of the paper, told Popular Science that once they started cycling the devices, they “realized that they weren’t going to die.” But he said they “don’t understand the mechanism of that yet.”

The battery design uses an ultra-thin gold nanowire coated in manganese oxide that is protected by a layer of electrolyte gel. From there, the gel interacts with the metal oxide coating to prevent corrosion. Longer wires can hold more charge, due to the increased surface area. The protective gel is one big different in this design, which could hold the key to the ultra-efficiency. 

It’s still early, obviously, but this could be a major breakthrough for batteries. Wouldn’t it be nice if the battery in your cell phone to actually last longer than the cell phone? You know ... assuming they figure out how it works.

(Via Popular Science)