Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have accidentally made batteries that last up to 400 times longer than the best-performing batteries today. And they don’t understand the mechanism of that yet. The new batteries store electricity in gold nanowires. The original aim of the experiment was simply to make a solid-state battery that used an electrolyte gel rather than a liquid to hold its charge. Lithium batteries contain liquid, which makes them extremely combustible and also sensitive to temperature.
But when they started experimenting with gold nanowires suspended in this electrolyte gel, they found that the system was incredibly resilient. The addition of the electrolyte gel by study leader and PhD candidate Mya Le Thai seems to have made all the difference, as well as coating the nanowires in manganese oxide.