Stanford Institute for Materials & Energy Sciences (SIMES)
Menlo Park, Calif. — Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have designed a low-cost, long-life battery that could enable solar and wind energy to become major suppliers to the electrical grid.
Using laser light to read and write magnetic data by quickly flipping tiny magnetic domains could help keep pace with the demand for faster computing devices.
Now experiments with SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser have given scientists their first detailed look at how light controls the first trillionth of a second of this process, known as all-optical magnetic switching.
A material that could enable faster memory chips and more efficient batteries can switch between high and low ionic conductivity states much faster than previously thought, SLAC and Stanford researchers have determined. The key is to use extremely small chunks of it.
Solar, wind and other renewable energy sources reduce consumption of fossil fuels but also pose challenges to the electrical grid because their power generation fluctuates, heightening the need for better battery technology to store their energy until it's needed to feed the grid.
If the excitement and enthusiasm of young scientists like Eric Verploegen could be pumped directly into the power grid, the world's energy problems could be solved tomorrow.
It can't, though. So Verploegen has made it his goal to channel his energy into looking for solutions the old-fashioned way – hard work, and lots of it.