Why it matters: Battery technology often seems to have not kept pace with advances in the computing power of the small chips powering mobile devices. This is because it is much easier to make batteries cheaper and easier to manufacture than to improve the energy density and time of charging and continuous charging and discharging, while at the same time ensuring their relative safety during operation. News of improvements come and go, but we now have one that's making it a real product, thanks to Sella Nanotechnology.
This week, Woop Fitness Tracking Company unveiled a new wearable device that puts multiple circuits and sensors in a small package that you can easily wear on your wrist. This is a great set that focuses on meeting standards related to heart rate, exercise and sleep performance, skin temperature, blood oxygen level and more. But what makes this device even more impressive is that it's 33% smaller than the previous model, while it can still last five days and needs to be recharged. The change is simple, but it's actually the result of ten years of hard work by a startup called Sila Nanotechnologies, founded by one of Tesla's early employees, Gene Berdichowski. The Alameda-based company is backed by BMW and Daimler and has been working since 2011 to find better anodic materials for batteries that improve their properties.
Photo: Berdychowski carries the next generation Cilla anode mixture
Battery manufacturers like Panasonic are trying to solve this problem in different ways, often by adding a small amount of silicon to the mixture The anode is usually 3-5%, but not more than 10%. Companies that have attempted to make pure silicon nano anodes have found that the resulting batteries last no more than 100 charge-discharge cycles without the high cost savings that make mass production financially impossible. Startups like XNRGI that emboss batteries on silicon wafers are a good example.
Silla says he has finally found a way to completely replace graphite and generate up to 20% more energy density while still using it. These battery production technologies are one of the main advantages of silicon silicon anode, in addition to the fact that the required raw materials are widely available and therefore less vulnerable to global supply shortages.