Student Accidentally Creates A Rechargeable Battery That Could Last 400 Years

There’s an old saying that luck happens when preparation meets opportunity, and there’s no better example of that than a discovery by a doctoral student at University of California. Mya Lei Thai was playing around the in the lab when she made a discovery that could lead to a rechargeable battery that could last up to 400 years. That means longer-lasting laptops and smartphones and fewer lithium ion batteries piling up in landfills. A team of researchers at UCI had been experimenting with nanowires for potential use in batteries, but found that over time the thin, fragile wires would break down and crack after too many charging cycles. One day, on a whim, Thai coated a set of gold nanowires in manganese dioxide and a Plexiglas-like electrolyte gel. She started to cycle the gel capacitors, and that’s when she got a surprise. It had been cycling 10,000 cycles and was still going strong. She came back a few days later and it had been cycling 30,000 cycles. That kept going on for a month. The discovery is mind-blowing because the average laptop battery lasts 300-500 charge cycles. The nanobattery developed at UCI made it through 200,000 cycles in 3 months. That would extend the life of the average laptop battery by about 400 years. The rest of the device would have probably gone kaput decades before the battery, but the implications for a battery that that lasts hundreds of years are pretty startling. Not bad for just fooling around in the laboratory.