MRS Bulletin

Carriers, Storage, & Transformation

Electrical Storage

Materials Challenges Facing Electrical Energy Storage

M. Stanley Whittinghama1

a1 Binghamton University, USA


During the past two decades, the demand for the storage of electrical energy has mushroomed both for portable applications and for static applications. As storage and power demands have increased predominantly in the form of batteries, the system has evolved. However, the present electrochemical systems are too costly to penetrate major new markets, still higher performance is required, and environmentally acceptable materials are preferred. These limitations can be overcome only by major advances in new materials whose constituent elements must be available in large quantities in nature; nanomaterials appear to have a key role to play. New cathode materials with higher storage capacity are needed, as well as safer and lower cost anodes and stable electrolyte systems. Flywheels and pumped hydropower also have niche roles to play.

M. Stanley Whittingham can be reached at the Department of Chemistry and Materials, PO Box 6000, State University of New York at Binghamton, Binghamton, NY 13902–6000, USA; tel. and fax 607–777–4623, and e-mail

Whittingham is a professor of materials science and director of the Materials Science Program and Institute for Materials Research at the State University of New York at Binghamton. Whittingham received his BA and PhD degrees in chemistry from Oxford University, working with Peter Dickens. In 1968, he joined professor Robert A. Huggins' research group in the Materials Science Department at Stanford University as a postdoctoral research associate to study fast-ion transport in solids. In 1972, Whittingham joined Exxon Research and Engineering Company to initiate a program in alternative energy production and storage. After 16 years in industry, he joined the Binghamton campus of the State University of New York as a professor of chemistry to initiate an academic program in materials chemistry. His recent work focuses on the synthesis and characterization of novel microporous and nano-oxides and phosphates for possible electrochemical and sensor applications. Whittingham was principal editor of the Journal Solid State Ionics for 20 years. He also was elected a fellow of the Electrochemical Society in 2004. In addition, Whittingham was awarded the Young Author Award of the Electrochemical Society in 1971, a JSPS fellowship in the Physics Department of the University of Tokyo in 1993, and the Battery Research Award of the Electrochemical Society in 2002.