Why Your Battery Isn't Very Good Even When It's Not On Fire
Moore's Law doesn't apply to batteries. We've been running up against the limits of storing electricity for a while now. Wired's David Hockenberry explains why your battery occasionally bursts into flames like a drummer in Spinal Tap, and what some very smart people are trying to do about it:
Lithium-ion technology may be approaching its limits. Batteries conform to technical restrictions set by nature and don't obey Moore's law like most of the digital world. In the last 150 years, battery performance has improved only about eightfold (or less, depending how it's measured). The speed and capacity of silicon chips, of course, improves that much every six years. "Li-ion is an extremely mature technology, and all of the problems are known by everybody," says Art Ramirez, the chief of device physics at Bell Labs. "They aren't going to change."
If Li-ion technology is at, or even near, its maximum potential, gadget makers (and users) are in trouble. Li-ion - with its high power, fast recharge times, and steady voltage - is the best battery the consumer electronics industry has. It powered the 50 million laptops, 800 million cell phones, and 80 million digital cameras sold in 2005. If the technology stagnates without a viable replacement, so will every kind of portable device, from ThinkPads to Game Boys.
Read it here, perhaps while multitasking and thumbing through the Yellow Pages looking for fire extinguishers.