Finding a battery should could charge and discharge over 200,000 times was not her expectation, but Mya Le Thai, lead study author at University of California, Irvine, pulled it off while "playing around" with the materials.
“Mya was playing around, and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it,” said senior author Reginald Penner, chair of UCI’s chemistry department, in a statement. “She discovered that just by using this gel, she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity.”
"It" is a battery with coated gold nanowires in manganese dioxide. When she added the Plexiglas-like gel it stabilized and protected the nanowires. “That was crazy,” added Penner, “because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most.”
You can see the gel surrounding the nanowires
“The coated electrode holds its shape much better, making it a more reliable option,” Thai said. “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.”
photo credit: A nanowire compared to a human hair. Thai et al./UC Irvine via YouTube