{Disarmed} Away, graphite: batteries with silicon anodes pose a revolution in wearables, mobiles and electric cars

Away, graphite: batteries with silicon anodes pose a revolution in wearables, mobiles and electric cars

Scientists have been promising us revolutionary batteries for years . They presented one study or research and decorate with data that seem to promise than to have one better alternative to battery current lithium-ion. Then comes the fine print , which typically tells us that those advancements will take years to become available on a large scale. Many links and many promises but we are still there, waiting.

That is precisely what has changed a bit with Sila Nanotechnologies , a company that does seem to have its own particular battery revolution in sight. To achieve this, they have made a singular change (although already known) in the traditional lithium-ion batteries: they have replaced the graphite of the anode with silicon, and that has many, but many advantages .

A technology that has been in development for years

Gene Berdichevsky was one of Tesla's first employees, and was charged with overseeing the development of the batteries that would be used in his first electric cars. This engineer left Tesla to found a company with Jagdeep Singh, an entrepreneur who, like him, was clear that it was necessary to invest in better batteries . "We wanted to take the technology further," Berdichevsky explained in The New York Times .

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Those entrepreneurs founded Sila in 2011, and they expected to take five years to develop that revolutionary battery technology. It took twice as long, but the result is one of the most promising we've seen and could have a real impact in all sorts of areas.

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Batteries with silicon anodes are not in fact new : we talked about them in October 2019, when they were implemented in the Xiaomi Mi MIX Alpha , and a year earlier Huawei had also proposed lithium-silicon batteries that allowed to improve fast charging of their smartphones.

However, it seems that Sila has a certain advantage here and has finally managed to find the exact composition of silicon that allows it to be used at the anode without the disadvantages of this material - which is quite unstable and expands in volume when loaded - being present.

First in wearables, then perhaps electric cars

In Sila they have teamed up with WHOOP, a wearables manufacturer that has just launched its new WHOOP 4.0 quantifying bracelet. It has done so presuming that the size of this device is 33% smaller than its predecessor thanks precisely to the battery developed by Sila Nanotechnologies.

Whoop4 2

According to Berdichevsky, the use of silicon instead of graphite at the anode allows to reach a density of up to 20% higher , which means that it is possible to use a smaller battery to achieve the same autonomy, or to free up space to integrate other components in the system. device.

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Sila's technology is important because silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth's crust after oxygen , but also because the application of this technology is not limited to wearables.

In fact, the greatest potential for that silicon anode developed by Sila could be in the electric car market : smaller cars could be made without sacrificing their autonomy, or have cars like the current ones in terms of size, but whose batteries would still offer more miles to go on a charge.

At Sila, yes, they are cautious: these improvements will also take some time to arrive: they expect their technology to be massively available in the second half of the decade . They are already dedicating a large part of the investment they have received to increase their production capacity for these batteries, but that will take time, although we will see this technology in other devices soon, they say.

What is likely is that these advances will end up causing other competitors with more resources to end up developing their own batteries with silicon anodes (or perhaps end up buying Sila's technology). Watch out, graphite, silicon is coming.

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The news Set aside, graphite: batteries with silicon anodes pose a revolution in wearables, mobiles and electric cars was originally published in xiaomist.com by Javier Pastor .

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