Penner Research Group

Faculty Spotlight
July 19, 2016 By Applied Innovation

We visited Dr. Penner’s Research Group to take a deep dive into their recent battery discovery and its commercial potential.

Imagine an iPhone that never dies—no more having to look at the battery percentage slowly decrease until that fatal 1%. That dream is on the horizon thanks to Penner Research Group team member and UCI doctoral candidate Mya Le Thai who recently discovered a crucial technology that could create a battery that lasts up to 400 times longer than the batteries currently in use.

Coming from a nanotechnology lab in her undergrad years, Le Thai joined Dr. Penner’s team excited by the opportunity to continue researching and explore her curiosities in the physical chemistry field. One such curiosity that she approached Dr. Penner about was attempting to create a solid-state battery to move away from traditional lithium ion batteries.

“…Just give it a try. Maybe it will work out,” Dr. Penner told Le Thai – and work out it did. The combination that she tried – gold nanowires, a manganese dioxide coating, and a polymerbased gel – ended up creating a circuit that could last 200,000 charges and discharges.