GradImpact: Revolutionizing Battery Technology by Lengthening Their Lifespans

    Mya Le Thai, a recent doctoral recipient in chemistry from the University of California, Irvine, led a research study at UCI that could revolutionize commercial batteries by greatly lengthening their lifespans. Her work resulted in the “development of a nanowire-based technology that allows lithium-ion batteries to be recharged hundreds of thousands of times.” This breakthrough could affect a wide-range of electronics, including computers, smartphones, appliances, cars, and spacecraft, and moves us closer to batteries that will never need to be replaced.


    Nanowires, thousands of times thinner than a human hair, are highly conductive. The challenge: fragile filaments eventually crack after cycles of charging and discharging. The UCI researchers, led by Thai, discovered the remedy: coat the filaments with a manganese dioxide shell and encase that in a Plexiglas-like gel. The difference? Batteries that would generally die after 5-7,000 cycles were now surviving hundreds of thousands of cycles without losing capacity. Thai is running follow-up studies to gain a better understanding of why this solution works.


    "The coated electrode holds its shape much better, making it a more reliable option," Thai says. "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." To learn more about Mya and her work, visit the University of California, Irvine website.


    **Photo Credit: UC Irvine

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