Technology Review interviews MIT materials scientist and battery expert Yet-Ming Chiang, who cofounded the battery startup A123 Systems of Watertown, MA, about battery technology and possible future increases.
One thing we have to keep in mind is you can't really conceive of anything like Moore's Law for electrochemical energy storage. Moore's Law was based on being able to perform similar functions [for computing] using either fewer electrons or, more recently, fewer photons. But energy is constrained by chemistry and the periodic table. Expecting Moore's Law from battery chemistry is like expecting steel next year to weigh half as much and be twice as strong.I think battery technology is key to improving a lot of other technologies. On the small scale we need them for longer lasting cellphones, iPods, laptops and other portable electronics.
People who are working on better batteries are very optimistic. There's definitely room for growth; there are many avenues for improvement. If you look at it realistically, I'd say a factor of two improvement in the next decade is quite realistic. A factor of 10 is not.
We also need them for our cars so we can transition from gasoline to clean electricity. I think that long term there is a better chance that our electric vehicles are powered by batteries than fuel cells, but this depends on the battery technology improving. A doubling in 10 years wasn't as much as I was hoping for, but it still is a serious improvement.
via Technology Review