As I write this, somewhere in my building a smoke alarm battery is dying, the incessant chirping a tiny bit of torture in an otherwise glorious day.
If only 9-volts came with nanowire electrodes like the ones recently developed at the University of California, Irvine. Then they'd last forever.
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Mya Le Thai, Reginald Penner (above) and their colleagues coated gold nanowires (each one thousands of times thinner than a human hair) with manganese dioxide and then encased them in an electrolyte made from a gel similar to Plexiglass.
That process increased the nanowire electrode's resistance to being charged and discharged over and over again. In fact, it was able to withstand 200,000 of these cycles over a period of three months without dying or even fracturing.
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This is quite a feat since nanowires are notoriously delicate and previous attempts from other research teams have achieved 7,000 cycles. By comparison, lithium-ion batteries used in electronic devices get between 300 and 500 discharge/charge cycles, according to Battery University.
"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," said Thai in a press statement.
The research team reported their result in the latest issue of ACS Energy Letters.