Lisa DiCarlo: Moore’s Law says that semiconductors and devices double in functionality every 18 months. But rechargeable batteries increase in capacity only five to 10 percent per year.

The increase in battery capacity is outstripped by ever-increasing advancements in chips and screens, which chew up a lot of power.

“It’s true. There has not been a major change in battery chemistry since lithium-ion,” says Dr. Lawrence Dubois, vice president in the physical sciences division of SRI International, a nonprofit research and development company. “We are not seeing the doubling or tripling of battery life that we’d like.”

That’s because, essentially, we’re running out of chemistry. Batteries, whether alkaline or rechargeable, are made primarily from materials derived from the periodic table of elements, and “There are no new elements in the periodic table,” says Dubois. “All the cathode materials a major component in batteries have been explored already.”

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