Researchers from the University of California, Irvine (UIC) have invented a lithium battery that has a core made of nanofibers that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times.
This is a huge step forward in the field of technology, creating a platform that helps us truly create usable batteries across hundreds or even thousands of years. They will also help extend the battery life of computers, smartphones, cars and spacecraft devices.
The person behind the important revolutionary discovery in this battery industry is Mya Le Thai, a Vietnamese-born graduate student who is preparing to earn her Ph.D. at UCI.
Scientists have long sought to apply nanowires to making batteries. A nanofiber can be thousands of times thinner than a human hair, very high conductivity and has a large surface area for easy storage and transfer of electrons.
However, the nanofibers are extremely fragile and unsuitable for use in charging and discharging batteries many times. When using nanofibers to make a regular lithium-ion battery, they expand, brittle and start to crack.
UCI researchers have solved this problem by coating a nanowire made of golden molecules with a shell of manganese dioxide. They are then immersed in an electrolyte made of Plexiglass gel. This combination has helped the inner nanofibers become more stable many times.
Lead researcher Dr. Mya Le Thai experimented with this battery by charging and discharging batteries up to 200,000 times in three months without detecting any changes in power, power and nanowires. .
This discovery happened very casually. When Mya was testing some chemical compounds, she covered all the nanowires with a very thin gel. And from there Mya began to notice the difference of the battery.
According to Reginald Penner, Dean of the Department of Chemistry at UCI, Mya Le Thai, in her experiments, reloaded the nanofiber structure because she made hundreds of thousands of times. Penner said that normally the yarn is only loaded about 6-7,000 times to be destroyed.
Researchers think flexible metal oxides make nanofibers more flexible and resist cracking.
“The manganese dioxide coated electrode holds its shape much better, making it a more reliable option,” Mya Le Thai said. “This study demonstrates that a battery based on nanowire electrodes can have a long life and we can actually create this kind of battery.”
This study was conducted in collaboration with the University of Maryland and funded by the US Department of Energy.
Mya Le Thai studied nanotechnology in a bachelor’s degree program at UCLA. She was the assistant professor at UCI for more than 2 years.
In 2015, she went to Washington D.C. Working at the Pioneer Energy Research Center of the US Department of Energy, before returning to UCI undertook some organizational work for the nanotechnology research departments for the university.
Currently Mya Le Thai is pursuing a PhD in Physical Chemistry at UCI.