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Moore’s Law doesn’t work on batteries, but it’s innovating anyway.




Commentary: Batteries aren’t sexy, but they’re more important than ever. The battery innovations that may be coming soon are:

Images: GettyImages / MF3d

There are many sexy areas of technology that recent software and hardware engineering graduates focus on. Artificial intelligence (AI)! Cryptography! Quantum computing! Robot process automation! 5G wireless! battery!

battery? Yes, it’s a battery. As computer scientist Rodney Brooks recently mentioned, “Today, if you want to give advice to an ambitious young graduate, she has the word” battery. ” ”

Batteries may not look as sexy as faster processors or Tesla 0-60 inches 1.98 seconds, but they allow these processors (and cars) to last longer. As such, batteries are one of the most important areas of innovation today, but there is still a long way to go to celebrate the next major breakthrough in battery technology.

See also: Hardware Inventory Policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Innovation speed difference

Over the last three decades, Brooks wrote, “Batteries are much better, but Moore’s Law isn’t.” (According to Moore’s Law, the number of transistors in high-density integrated circuits doubles about every two years.) In fact, for what Moore pointed out as Brooks in 1965, this kind of improvement is almost certain. I can’t see it. Description:

Digital electronics simply don’t detect the voltage or check if the binary number is “1” or “0”. The actual amount of current that the voltage can drive is not really important. Therefore, the circuit can be operated while repeatedly halving the amount of substance of each transistor. However, in the case of batteries, energy must be stored in the material using a reversible mechanism so that the energy can be used later. And we fill that substance with as much energy as possible, so halving the amount of substance halves the amount of energy that can be stored. There is no Moore’s Law. Never before.

This does not mean that the battery can obviously not get better. As a result, one study shows that lithium-ion batteries have improved by 13% each year since their commercial introduction in 1991. A lot of money is flowing into battery research and development as we try to improve the battery life of mobile phones, electric vehicles, renewable energy grids, and much more.

For clarity, these improvements are needed, as well as expanding the scope of electric vehicles. For example, Tesla likes to talk about the 2 million mile life of a battery, but the real world may not be kind to such predictions. Do you like the speed of using a supercharged station to replenish Tesla? Every time you do it kills long battery life. This is not Tesla’s fault. It’s just how the battery works (supercharging involves more current, more heat is generated, and the battery deteriorates). And it’s not just Tesla’s batteries. To ensure maximum battery life, you need a careful dance to make your smartphone battery a baby (don’t lower it to near 0%, for example).

Nobody really wants to think about this. I just want to drive text messages on electric cars and smartphones. As a result, habits may not improve and battery technology needs to be improved.

The future of batteries

One problem with battery innovation is that venture capitalists can’t afford to spend money for quick profits. As Dag Pedersen of Mascot AS points out:

For almost all types of batteries, the development period is usually extended. Ten years is common, many concepts are abandoned in the laboratory, and if other concepts turn out to be unrealistic, the first launch date is reverted many times. This extended development time makes battery manufacturing an unattractive proposal for investors. So to bring a new type of battery to market, you need true commitment and patience, and you need to understand your benefactors. So it’s not surprising that the successful launch of a new battery is not only unusual, but also a major event.

That’s bad news. The good news is that researchers are successful with many new options.For example, a new generation of lithium-ion (“a lot of lithium can be stored in the positive and negative electrodes, and energy and power can be combined for the first time”), lithium-sulfur (“Li-S batteries use very light active materials”. Sulfur on the positive electrode and metallic lithium on the negative electrode[making] Its theoretical energy density … very high “), and all-solid-state batteries (“allows the use of innovative high-voltage, high-capacity materials, resulting in higher density and lighter batteries as a result of reduced self-discharge. Achieves better shelf life. Discharge ”).

In addition to these, we have added a variety of other experiments on improved battery technologies, such as cobalt-free lithium-ion batteries to reduce costs and silicon-anodic lithium-ion batteries to replace graphite to dramatically increase capacity. To do. In other words, a lot is happening in battery R & D, and I predict that many are likely to fail, but hopefully it’s in danger so many. , Should improve the above 13% figure per year.

Disclosure: I work for AWS, but the views presented here are mine.

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