Full Name
David Mackanic
Building batteries that can bend and flex
Brief Biography
David Mackanic, 30, is unlocking new possibilities in electronics by building batteries that can bend and flex.

Because lithium-ion batteries, which power most consumer electronics, tend to be rigid and bulky, they greatly constrain the design and function of new products. A big part of the problem is the electrolyte, the chemical part of the battery that enables an electrical charge to pass between two terminals. Most electrolytes are made of highly combustible liquids, which means lithium-ion batteries need a weighty protective casing to avoid catching fire.

As the founder of Anthro Energy, a Silicon Valley startup, Mackanic thinks he has a better solution. His fix, which he developed as a PhD student at Stanford, is an electrolyte made from a synthetic polymer. Whereas past polymer electrolytes were either brittle or poorly conductive, his is robust enough to bend without inhibiting performance. Since the polymer is nonflammable, batteries made with it don’t need a rigid case and can more easily be built into the gadgets that they power. “You can design devices with them, rather than around them,” Mackanic says.

Anthro Energy, which Mackanic launched in 2021, is now partnering with several companies to test its batteries in a range of electronics, including wearable devices, virtual-reality headsets, and electric vehicles. In the long run, Mackanic believes, his product could lead to a 30% improvement in EV range by enabling automakers to fit more battery cells into a fixed amount of space.
David Mackanic