A major step has recently been made toward longer lasting and more efficient batteries. In order to overcome the need to recharge smartphones, tablets and laptops every day, researchers at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin have been experimenting with batteries that can store high quantities of energy in the smallest possible space. By using silicon instead of graphite in lithium ion batteries, they have managed to achieve six times greater autonomy. The discovery, which is already making the rounds around the globe, has major environmental implications, because it could expand the autonomy of electric cars, promoting a new concept of sustainable mobility. A team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside is already working toward this goal. Zero-emission vehicles are already common in California, home of Tesla Motors, and the state’s universities are working with car manufacturers to develop increasingly efficient and cost-effective technologies, and not without economic payoffs as well. Scientists working in this field have discovered that super-thin silicon films (around 20 nanometers) are capable of absorbing the highest possible amount of lithium, making it possible to reduce the use of materials and energy needed for producing batteries. There is still a long road ahead, but US researchers are hoping to extend the average life cycle of batteries by imitating the self-healing process of living organisms. In order to replicate this process in a silicon electrode, a research team at Stanford University’s SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) has developed a polymer coating for the electrode. This work was based on research in which an artificial skin was created for a robot with the same self-healing properties as human skin. The self-repairing process of the silicon electrodes could take just a few hours to fully restore a battery’s functıonality. And that would enable us to travel long-distance in an electric vehicle.