Nanotechnology Can Improve Energy Storage

Lynne Kiesling

How cool is this?

Stanford researchers have found a way to use silicon nanowires to reinvent the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power laptops, iPods, video cameras, cell phones, and countless other devices.

The new version, developed through research led by Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, produces 10 times the amount of electricity of existing lithium-ion, known as Li-ion, batteries. A laptop that now runs on battery for two hours could operate for 20 hours, a boon to ocean-hopping business travelers.

“It’s not a small improvement,” Cui said. “It’s a revolutionary development.”

I think it’s really important that we’re starting to chip away at the holy grail of electricity: storage. Innovations in storage could change the economics of electricity completely; once we have cost-effective storage at meaningful quantities the argument for central control to achieve real-time system balance starts to erode. I am looking forward to it.