Said Al-Hallaj

AGE: 44
COFOUNDER AND CEO: AllCell Technologies (website)
BUSINESS: Renewable energy

This former Illinois Institute of Technology prof always believed rechargeable lithium-ion batteries had potential—if only they stopped catching fire. So he set out to design a safer and lighter alternative. Now versions of his model are being used by the French scooter company Matra and the U.S. military. In 2011, funded in part by a $1 million stimulus grant backed by the state, the Jordanian-born Al-Hallaj doubled his staff at AllCell Technologies and began expanding his Back of the Yards production facility. In 2012, he will continue field-testing his latest invention—a semitransparent hologram film that turns any window into a solar power instrument—on the IIT campus.

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Photograph: Taylor Castle