Next Generation Lithium-Ion Batteries With at Least 40% More Capacity Get $25M Investment Boost

By · March 03, 2011

High power magnification of silicon nanowires before and after charging shows they resist cracking.

Amprius, a California-based company founded in 2008 by Stanford Professor Yi Cui, has been working diligently on commercializing some promising next generation lithium-ion battery technology since 2007.

The new batteries would provide at least 40% more capacity than similarly sized and weighted existing lithium-ion batteries—and have the potential to provide as much a 500% more capacity with further development.

Providing some validation to the progress of Amprius in getting this tech commercialized, the company has today announced a $25 million dollar investment round featuring the likes of Chinese investors IPV Capital and Qian Neng Fund as well as clean energy investment powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

The Amprius batteries use silicon anodes in place of the typical graphite anodes to achieve their impressive capacity gains. Although the idea of using silicon instead of graphite has been around for a while, the problem has been that under repeated charging and discharging the silicon swells and cracks—eventually turning it into a pulverized mess. But by using silicon nanowires instead of plain old silicon, the Amprius batteries can withstand the repeated recharging and discharging required of modern electronics and electric vehicles.

Amprius says they have already "achieved key validation milestones for consumer electronics applications such as smartphones" and that they are continuing "to advance toward the requirements necessary for electric drive vehicle applications."

“Our recent fundraising will enable us to deploy our first commercial product, validate our manufacturing processes, and launch a global presence,” said Dr. Kang Sun, CEO of Amprius. “We are delighted to have the support of new investors and the continued support of current investors as we embark on the next phase of our business.”

These days new "advanced" battery announcements are a dime a dozen; it seems that every scientist with a pulse is working on the next big battery application. Given how long Yi Cui and Amprius have been at it, and how relatively simple their technology seems to be, this new round of funding helps validate the potential for their technology. And a claim of 40% more storage capacity certainly is impressive to start with, but it doesn't feel like they are making outrageous claims—another feather in their truthfulness potential cap.

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