Most of the world-changing discoveries are the result of a creative mind. But do you know that some of the most incredible discoveries in the world were not really intendedto be what they are today and were actually invented because of a lucky accident?
There’s no better example of that than a recent discovery of Mya Le Thai, a doctoral student at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). In fact, she was just playing around in the University’s lab when she made a discovery that could lead to a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 400 years.
It all started when a team of researchers at UCI were experimenting with nanowires to be used in batteries, but they learned that over time the thin, fragile wires would break down and crack after too many charging cycles. The doctoral student unintentionally developed the nanobattery when she decided to coat a set of gold nanowires in manganese dioxide and then applied a Plexiglas-like electrolyte gel
Reginald Penner, chairman of UCI’s chemistry department, said:
“She started to cycle these gel capacitors, and that’s when we got the surprise. She said, ‘this thing has been cycling 10,000 cycles and it’s still going.’ She came back a few days later and said ‘it’s been cycling for 30,000 cycles.’ That kept going on for a month.”
Mya Le Thai’s discovery is a huge breakthrough because the average laptop battery can last up to 300 to 500 charge cycles. While the nanobattery developed at UCI made it through 200,000 cycles in three months and losing only 5 percent of its capacity. With that, it could extend the life of the average laptop battery by about 400 years.
However, this nanobattery is still in the testing and development stage and could still take a long time before manufacturers could apply this technology in the market. But once it is available, it would be a great advance for the community.