Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Jun 9;117(23):12550-12557. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1821672117.
Energy storage is an integral part of modern society. A contemporary example is the lithium (Li)-ion battery, which enabled the launch of the personal electronics revolution in 1991 and the first commercial electric vehicles in 2010. Most recently, Li-ion batteries have expanded into the electricity grid to firm variable renewable generation, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of transmission and distribution. Important applications continue to emerge including decarbonization of heavy-duty vehicles, rail, maritime shipping, and aviation and the growth of renewable electricity and storage on the grid. This perspective compares energy storage needs and priorities in 2010 with those now and those emerging over the next few decades. The diversity of demands for energy storage requires a diversity of purpose-built batteries designed to meet disparate applications. Advances in the frontier of battery research to achieve transformative performance spanning energy and power density, capacity, charge/discharge times, cost, lifetime, and safety are highlighted, along with strategic research refinements made by the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) and the broader community to accommodate the changing storage needs and priorities. Innovative experimental tools with higher spatial and temporal resolution, in situ and operando characterization, first-principles simulation, high throughput computation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence work collectively to reveal the origins of the electrochemical phenomena that enable new means of energy storage. This knowledge allows a constructionist approach to materials, chemistries, and architectures, where each atom or molecule plays a prescribed role in realizing batteries with unique performance profiles suitable for emergent demands.