A Student Accidentally Created a Rechargeable Battery That Could Last 400 Years – Upworthy

A Student Accidentally Created a Rechargeable Battery That Could Last 400 Years – Upworthy

There is an old saying that luck comes when preparation meets opportunity.

There is no better example of this than a 2016 discovery by graduate student Mya Le Thai at the University of California, Irvine. After playing around in the lab, she made a discovery that could lead to a rechargeable battery that could last up to 400 years. This means laptops and smartphones last longer and fewer lithium-ion batteries end up in landfills.

A team of researchers at UCI had been experimenting with nanowires for possible use in batteries, but found that the thin, fragile wires would break down and crack over time after too many charging cycles. A charge cycle occurs when a battery goes from completely full to completely empty and then full again.

But one day, on a whim, Thai coated a set of gold nanowires with manganese dioxide and a Plexiglas-like electrolyte gel.

“She started testing these gel capacitors, and that’s when we got the surprise,” said Reginald Penner, chairman of the university’s chemistry department. “She said, ‘This thing has been through 10,000 cycles and is still running.’ She came back a few days later and said, ‘It’s been cycling for 30,000 cycles.’ This went on for a month.”

This discovery is mind-blowing since the average laptop battery lasts 300 to 500 charge cycles. The nanobattery developed at the UCI completed 200,000 cycles in three months. That would extend the life of an average laptop battery by about 400 years. The rest of the device probably would have broken decades before the battery did, but the impact on a battery that lasts hundreds of years is pretty staggering.

Photo by John Cameron on UnsplashBatteries recycling at WRWA, London. 21st November

“The bigger picture is that there may be a very simple way to stabilize nanowires of the type we are studying,” Penner said. “If this turns out to be generally true, that would be a major step forward for the community.” Not bad for just messing around in the lab.

This article originally appeared on 12/22/22

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