It seems the work to commercialize the use of silicon in lithium-ion batteries is proceeding apace.
The folks a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have been working on a process to easily use silicon nanowires to greatly increase the capacity of Li-Ion batteries. LBNL has been testing batteries made with the silicon anodes for over a year now and found the new cells maintain their capacity after “many hundreds of charge-discharge cycles.” The cells have approximately eight times the capacity of existing Li-Ion cells.
If this process holds up and is cost effective to implement, electric cars will become more of a reality as battery packs capable of giving cars extended driving range (400+ miles) will become available. It also means the physical size of battery packs used in hybrid electric cars, laptop computers, and a whole host of other devices using these batteries will shrink even as the capacity increases. Imagine a laptop, tablet, or smart phone that will give you a full 24 hours of use before its battery needs to be recharged.