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For 30 years, graphite has played a key role in lithium-­ion batteries, powering everything from small portable devices to electric vehicles. But now silicon is poised to take over, thanks to Sila Nanotechnologies’ innovative silicon powder. The California startup’s innovation took 10 years and 55,000 iterations, and has massive value for our battery-­powered future: a silicon-­based anode is about five times lighter and two times smaller than graphite-­based anodes. That means smaller and more powerful batteries; Sila says its technology could increase a battery’s energy capacity by 20% to 40%. This year the company announced that it’s building a facility in Washington State to scale up production to support the auto industry.

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