Energy Harvesting and Storage
Intense research efforts around the world are dealing with the exploration and fabrication of novel forms for harvesting energy from environmental sources. The resulting devices could revolutionize the way we generate energy. There are more mobile phones in the world than there are people, nearly all of them powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, the single most important component enabling the portable electronics revolution of the past few decades. Innovations in materials science are paving the way for even more batteries with even better performance. Cars and grid-storage systems would be dramatically improved if they could be discharged and recharged tens of thousands of times over many years, or even decades. Maintenance crews and customers would love batteries that could monitor themselves and send alerts if they were damaged or no longer functioning at peak performance—or even were able to fix themselves. And it can't be too much to dream of dual-purpose batteries integrated into the structure of an item, helping to shape the form of a smartphone, car, or building while also powering its functions. Nanomaterials, in particular graphene and carbon nanotubes, could present several new features for energy storage devices, such as smaller capacitors, completely flexible and even rollable energy storage devices, transparent batteries, and high-capacity and fast-charging devices.