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Nano-sized 'yolks' should lead to longer-lasting batteries

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
August 10, 2015
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Those eggs you might have had for breakfast? They're not just food -- they may be the key to longer-running batteries in your devices. Scientists at MIT and Tsinghua University have developed a nanoparticle battery electrode whose egg-like design is built to last. Their invention, which houses a shape-changing aluminum "yolk" in a titanium dioxide cell, can go through charging cycles without degrading like the graphite electrodes in conventional power packs. That could improve not only the overall longevity of the battery, but also its capacity and maximum power. You'd have gadgets that not only hold out for longer between charges, but don't need to be replaced quite so often under heavy use.

This is still a lab experiment, but it's closer to practical reality than you think. The manufacturing technique is simple, and these materials are relatively easy to find. The yolks already hold up well under stress, for that matter. Even with super-fast charging (which typically shortens a battery's lifespan), a test unit had just over half its capacity after 500 cycles. So long as the team does get its tech into a shipping product, you could see a wave of hardware that reduces many of your energy-related woes, such as range anxiety in electric cars or phone batteries that die before you're ready to upgrade.

[Image credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT]

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