As part of the pre-program reading material for my upcoming MIT Sloan Clean Energy Ventures class, we had a variety of required reading and video posts to review. One of the most interesting videos was the 2012 TED Talk of MIT's Professor Donald Sadoway, "The Missing Link to Renewable Energy". In the talk, he discusses reinventing the battery.
Without dumbing-down the subject matter too badly, he is able to describe the advanced work that he undertook at MIT making an economical liquid metal battery. He doesn't mention it, but Bill Gates is a financial backer of his startup that came out of his research, Liquid Metal Battery Corporation. In brief, he is attempting to make a battery that is technically advanced enough for the Smart Grid, but cheap enough to be used without government subsidies.
The most interesting thing I took away from this was his quote, where he states that it is important to have "passion for science in the service of society, not science in service of career building."