Next-Generation Battery Pioneer Sees Breakthroughs Coming

About every eight minutes in Venkat Viswanathan’s laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University’s mechanical engineering department, two robots—Otto and Clio—complete an experiment that could help accelerate breakthroughs in lithium-ion batteries. Viswanathan, 35, studied mechanical engineering in Chennai at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras before turning to fluid dynamics and batteries at Stanford. Now he leads a group at Carnegie Mellon focused on improvements that could help power passenger aircraft with a technology that, 30 years ago, was only for camcorders…

Viswanathan also has insights into looming advances as an adviser to QuantumScape Corp., the developer in San Jose that raced to a $20 billion valuation with a promise to increase the range of battery-powered electric cars by 50%, and as chief scientist for Aionics Inc., which is using artificial intelligence to speed up battery development.

He spoke with Bloomberg Markets in June about what he sees coming next.