Researchers create selfhealing batteries inspired by robot 'skin'

In the race to create a better battery, scientists have gazed longingly at silicon, prized for its ability to hold copious energy during charging. The material has a significant drawback, however: it likes to expand during said charging, causing it to eventually crack and become useless. However, scientists at Stanford's SLAC laboratory have developed silicon electrodes that repair themselves, inspired by -- of all things -- the latest research into robotic skin. They created a silicon polymer with weak chemical bonds which attract each other when the material cracks, allowing it to regain its shape in a few hours (as pictured above). The team managed a respectable 100 discharge cycles with a battery that used the material, a promising start but still far from their goal of 3,000 cycles for an electric vehicle. You can add that to the growing pile of promising battery tech that may amount to something, some day -- but at least the odds keep getting better.