May 20, 2013, 8:41 PM — It's become part of the daily ritual: Get home, plug in your phone, wake-up to a full battery, repeat. Our poly-gadget lives depend on our batteries having enough juice for the day, and depending on how we use them, they're usually good for just about one workday of use. However, a new nanochemical innovation from an 18-year-old California teen may throw this whole ritual on its head.
This weekend, Eesha Khare of Saratogoa, California took home a $50,000 scholarship from this year's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for her supercapacitor battery that can fully charge a smartphone in less than 30 seconds. Additionally, the tiny technology can last for 10,000 charge-recycles, compared to only 1000 cycles for traditional re-chargeable batteries. (Apple, for example, claims their iPhone battery is designed to be able to maintain 80% of its original capacity through 400 full recharge cycles.)
Manufacturers are surely taking note that in addition to its extreme efficiency, Ms. Khare's charger is also flexible, which would make it an ideal component for the coming wave of wearable tech making its way to our wrists and faces.
Aside from mobile, the technology has obvious applications in all-electric cars. Tesla's all-electric Model S recently scored Consumer Reports' highest car rating ever: a 99 out of 100. The only reason it didn't score a perfect 100 was because of the time it takes to fully charge--around five hours even when using Tesla's proprietary high power wall Connector. Hopefully, Elon Musk is watching.
The Intel Fair also recognized 17-year-old Henry Wanjune Lin of Shrevesport Louisiana for his new cosmological mapping data and awarded him a $50,000 scholarship. Nineteen-year-old Romanian Ionut Alexandru Budisteanu took home the fair's Gordon E. Moore Award and its $75,000 scholarship for his new take on autonomous car navigation tech that costs around only $4000 to implement.
This should stand to shame all of us for what we failed to accomplish when we were teenagers.