Saudis invest in silicon nanowires, trying to bury battery breakthrough?

All right everyone, it's time to warm up your conspiracy theories. Back in December we reported on a potential breakthrough in battery technology from Stanford University's Professor Yi Cui. Dr. Cui developed a silicon nanowire material for use in battery electrodes. The beauty of the tiny wire bundles is that they have exponentially more surface area than a conventional flat surface electrode. That allows the electrodes to absorb and release far more electrons for greater energy density. Now we have news that Cui has received a $10 million grant for the expansion of his research. The money will be used to hire more students and staff for Cui's research lab at Stanford.
All this is well and good, except ... the money is coming from Saudi Arabia. The new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in the oil-rich monarchy is giving grants to Cui and eleven other researchers around the world. Cui and the other grant recipients will spend time each year at the new university helping to develop curriculum. The important question is what conditions are put on the research results. Will silicon nanowires ever see the light of day?

[Source: Palo Alto News]

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