Researchers in the Nanotechnology department of Tel Aviv University presented a smartphone charger at Microsoft’s Think Next conference this year. The device can charge a Samsung Galaxy S4 in 30 seconds, using patented organic nanodot compounds to store energy. It is currently the size of a laptop charger, and StoreDot, the start-up behind the device, plans on shrinking it to be the size of a typical phone charger in the next few years.
A 30 second charge is significantly shorter than the several hours it takes most of us to charge our phones now. To better understand what this new smartphone charger could do, we can look at how batteries typically work.
So How Does a Battery Work?
- Every battery has two oppositely charged electrodes at each end: a cathode (positively charged) and an anode (negatively charged).
- Chemical reactions occur at the two electrodes, and the medium surrounding everything, called the electrolyte, allows electricity to flow between the two ends.
- When the circuit is completed, the molecules in the electrolyte (surrounding fluid) combine with the molecules of the anode (negative end), producing new compounds and releasing electrons in the process.
- The cathode (positive end) does the same thing, its molecules combining with the electrolyte ions and the electrons released from the anode. The result is newly formed compounds as well.
In short, the reactions at the anode give off electrons, and the reactions at the cathode use up these electrons. The movement of electrons from the anode (negative) to the cathode (positive) creates electricity, which exists as long as both the electrodes have enough reacting molecules for the reactions to occur.
Rechargeable batteries differ from regular batteries in that the entire process is reversible. When an outside source is used to apply electrical energy to the battery, the electrons flow backwards from positive to negative, restoring the cell’s charge somewhat like a VCR player in reverse.
Back to StoreDot‘s Technology
How is their battery different? It’s made out of amino acid chains that form 2 nanometer wide crystals. The use of these peptide chains allows for StoreDot to take advantage of the unique chemical and physical properties of the molecules. In fact, the founder of StoreDot, Dr. Myersdorf, describes the use of peptide chains in technology as “new physics, new chemistry, a new approach to devices” (telegraph.co.uk).
These chargers are expected to be available for retail in late 2016 for roughly $30, or double the cost of the average phone charger.
So what do you think? Would you be willing to pay double for a phone charger that only takes 30 seconds?
Email me with comments and suggestions!