Normal batteries wear over time — the more you charge and recharge them, the less effective they are. But the new system showed that, unlike regular batteries, which, after a few hundred charge cycles only contain a small amount of charge, it can withstand 200,000 charge cycles over three months while only losing 5 percent of its volume.
This new battery, which, instead of lithium, stores electricity in gold nanowires, would still need to be recharged, but would allow consumers to utilize them efficiently for over 200,000 charge cycles. To put this phenomenon into perspective, that’s about a lifetime use for products like phones, computers, cars, and spacecraft, too.
So what’s the problem?
The issue is that the researchers currently don’t know how the system actually works. “We started to cycle the devices, and then realised that they weren’t going to die,” explained lead researcher Reginald Penner from the University of California, Irvine, to Popular Science. “We don’t understand the mechanism of that yet.”
The researchers originally wanted to create a solid-state battery that would hold its charge through the use of electrolyte gel as opposed to the lithium batteries, which contain liquid and, along with being sensitive to temperature, are also extremely combustible. When they began experimenting, however, they discovered that the gold nanowires suspended in the electrolyte gel proved much more resilient than any other battery system.