Israeli startup StoreDot has developed a prototype for a smartphone battery and charger system which enables full charging in 30 seconds, using nanotechnology and bio-organic components.
Even as smartphones become ever more powerful, sophisticated and lightweight, battery autonomy still remains a major problem. Their hyper-connected owners use them all day long, and they need regular re-charging. Electronics manufacturers and tech startups are coming up with various solutions to boost mobile device power autonomy, creating low-energy components, connections and screens, extra batteries, systems for capturing solar energy, and so on. Now Israeli startup StoreDot has invented a new type of battery and charger capable of reducing smartphone charging time to around 30 seconds. A prototype, developed for Samsung’s Galaxy S4, made its first appearance on 7 April at Microsoft’s Think Next conference in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. The main novelty of the StoreDot approach lies not in the charger but in the battery itself, which uses ‘quantum dot’ (semiconductor nanostructure)technology in the electrolyte.
Nano-crystal technology and bio-organic components
The StoreDot prototype system comprises a charger and battery which uses nano-crystal and bio-organic components. The technology was in fact spun out of research being done into Alzheimer’s disease at Tel Aviv University. The researchers identified the peptides – naturally-occurring amino acids –that are now being put to work in StoreDot’s bio-organic battery. StoreDot founder and CEO Doron Myersdorf claims that the company has developed “a new generation of electrodes with new materials”, which they are calling a Multi-Function Electrode (MFE). “On one side it acts like a supercapacitor, i.e. with very fast charging, and on the other it is like a lithium electrode – with slow discharge. The electrolyte is modified with our nanodots in order to make the multifunction electrode more effective,” he explains. What the company has done is to build bio-semiconductors from peptides – organic amino acids that, when linked together, create proteins. When connected to a smartphone’s battery, the charger sets the peptides in motion, dramatically reducing charging time, says StoreDot. As well as charging much faster, the battery has greater autonomy and also lasts longer than those in current use.
Technology set to disrupt the electronic components industry
This is not the first time that nanotechnology has been harnessed for charging smartphones. In May last year Californian high school student Eesha Khare won one of the two Intel Young Scientist Awards for her ultra-fast mobile phone charger. Right now StoreDot’s technology is at the early prototype stage. The company still needs to achieve the required energy density for the battery and it is still too big to fit into a smartphone. There may well be a ready and enthusiastic market for the new technology, but the product needs more development time and mass production of the batteries is not expected before late 2016. In fact the nanodot technology developed by StoreDot could be extended much further than smartphone batteries, to other mass market electronic items such as digital tablets and various types of screen. Meanwhile, although this ‘alternative’ battery may well be cheaper and less toxic than existing materials and processes used to make batteries, the biggest challenge for StoreDot is likely to be getting into the manufacturing industry. With its ambitious plans to invest in its own production facility as a way into the market, StoreDot is now looking to raise a further $20 million in funding.The company has raised $6.25 million to date from investors and the and the prototype being made on a Samsung Smartphone, the manufacturer is rumored to be a prime backer of the project.