Technology is starting to become an increasingly normal part of everyday life for people living in developed nations. The Pew Research Center reports that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans own a smartphone, and that it is mainly through their smartphone that they access the online world.
This is up from the 35 percent that was documented in the spring of 2011, showing a clear upward trend in people owning smartphones.
With this increased use of technology comes a new energy demand, one that researchers at the University of California, Irvine, might have just solved.
In an accidental scientific breakthrough using gold and some other materials, the research team was able to build a nanowire battery that is capable of maintaining its ability to hold a charge after thousands of charging cycles, unlike traditional lithium-ion batteries that seem to lose their ability to hold a charge after a certain amount of time.
If you have a smartphone, which according to the stats you probably do, you might remember just how powerful its battery was during those first few weeks that you owned it. It felt like it would hold a charge forever! Then, as the months passed, your phone slowly lost its ability to hold a charge and is now usually dead by the end of your day.
Well, this new nanowire-based battery went through a three-month testing period to see exactly how well it stood up next to lithium-ion batteries, and the results were pretty good to say the least.
Lithium-ion batteries usually endure 5,000 to 7,000 charges before starting to die. The nanowire battery endured 200,000 charge cycles over three months without showing any loss in power capacity, which is quite a feat.
Mya Le Thai, research leader and UCI doctoral candidate, notes that “the coated electrode holds its shape much better, making it a more reliable option. 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.”
And we can’t forget, this all happened on accident because “Mya was playing around [when] she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it… By using this gel, she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity.”