The Lady and the li-ion

Laptops desperately need a better lithium-ion battery. Boston-Power's Christina Lampe-Onnerud says she's got it

14 min read
The Lady and the li-ion
Photo: Chris Mueller

YOUR WORLD increasingly runs on lithium-ion batteries. Chances are good that your phone, laptop, camera, portable music and video players, radios, and game consoles keep going only as long as there are lithium ions churning around inside them. Lithium-ion batteries are getting into your power tools. Soon they’ll even be in your car.

So it’s a shame that after nearly four decades of intensive development, lithium-ion batteries still leave plenty to be desired. They fade fast—although their energy capacity starts out higher than that of any other kind of mass-market battery, it can drop more than 25 ­percent per year in typical applications. And then there are the persistent reports of flameouts: just this January, ­journalists gathered at a Korean hospital witnessed a colleague’s laptop burst into flames. Remember the iPod that burned up in a man’s back pocket, or the Dell laptop that went up in flames at a conference in Japan? Their former owners sure do.

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