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The Search for a Better Battery

The classic combination of government research funding and entrepreneurial gumption won’t take energy storage to the next level anytime soon

3 min read
The Search for a Better Battery
Photo: iStockphoto

Despite the appearance of rapid technological advances, the specter of stagnation looms over the world’s innovators. Low-hanging fruit is nowhere to be seen in fields as crucial as digital electronics, biomedical devices, or space technology. Nothing illustrates the looming problem of stagnation more dramatically than the quest for a superbattery.

The competition is global, pitting China against the United States, Japan, and Europe. With so many contenders and so much money invested, you might expect batteries to be on a glide path to greatness. They are not. Disputes are rife over materials, target markets, performance measures, and engineering methods. Big advances, often hyped, are slow to emerge.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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