There’s still a lot of work to be done in developing battery chemistries

1 min read

For much of the last Century, battery technology didn't really need to progress. But the transistor radio changed all that; suddenly, people needed small batteries with a reasonable operating life at reasonable cost. That need was met at first by dry cells.

But as electronic products became more complex and power hungry, it became obvious something better was required and lithium technology met the requirements; at least in part. Dr Yoshio Nishi, previously director of materials for Sony Research, knows a few things about battery technology. He told a recent seminar there are 110million possible combinations of materials that could be used to create a battery, but only 30 of these have been put to practical use. Yet, after 40 years of lithium ion research, we aren't that much further ahead and companies are still looking for chemistries which will provide higher energy and power densities. Is there a breakthrough coming? Not according to Dr Nishi, who thinks lithium ion still offers the best way forward. But he believes new anode and cathode materials, plus such approaches as polymer gels, will move things on. Slow progress in battery chemistry has been mitigated by developments in electronics that enable higher performance at lower power. However, it won't be too long before battery chemists will have to come up with technology that complements the developments in electronic components.