The efficient storage of electricity is critical if the human race is to make a transition to a post-fossil-fuels world. And that we will have to do whether in order to mitigate climate change or to remove the sources of much international conflict or just because the reachable fossil fuel deposits are running low. So: Are scientists and engineers making progress on better batteries?
There is a lot of work being done in this field and, yes, those toiling in this vineyard do seem to be making progress.
The new silicon all-solid-state battery is an example. Engineers at the University of California, San Diego recently decided to try to combine two promising sub-fields of battery research: the use of solid-state electrolytes on the one hand and of an all-silicon anode on the other. The research report observes that “initial rounds of tests show that the new battery is safe, long-lasting, and energy dense.”
Strange New Worlds:
An anode is the positively charged electrode by which the electrons leave a device. The opposite is the cathode. Solid state batteries have generally relied on metallic lithium as an anode. But this has limited battery charge rates and it creates a need for an elevated temperature during charging. Batteries with silicon anodes can gain the benefits of solid state electrolytes without those costs.