Amprius Looks to Power Up Smartphones, Wearables and Electric Cars

2014 started with a jolt for high-energy battery startup Amprius.

In January, the Silicon Valley startup raised a $30 million Series C round of financing led by Asian private equity firm SAIF Partners, bringing Amprius’ total funding to over $60 million. The same month, Amprius announced that former Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu had joined the company’s board.

Amprius CEO Dr. Kang Sun says the company’s lithium-ion batteries are innovative in their ability to retain energy.

“In the traditional lithium-ion battery, the anode material is carbon graphite. Amprius’ lithium-ion battery contains silicon anode as the electrical material,” says Dr. Sun. “In theory, silicon has ten times higher energy density than carbon.”

As a result, Dr. Sun says Amprius batteries have 20% to 40% more energy density than conventional lithium-ion batteries, which are commonly found in smartphones. The new round of funding will be used to speed up production of Amprius batteries in its Chinese manufacturing facility.

In addition to smartphones, Dr. Sun says he is focused on the larger consumer device market, including wearables. Another application is electrical transportation, which Dr. Sun says Amprius will look to work on in the first quarter of 2014.

As for Dr. Chu, Dr. Sun says the company welcomes him first and foremost as a scientist – not as a former Secretary of Energy.

“We are interested in having Dr. Chu on our board primarily because of his scientific contributions. He can advise us in several areas of technology and development activities in our company,” says Dr. Sun.