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Start-Up Promises Smartphone Charging in 30 Seconds
Posted April 8, 2014
Start-Up Promises Smartphone Charging in 30 Seconds
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By Barry Levine. Updated April 8, 2014 1:37PM

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How would you like to charge your smartphone in less time than it takes to read this story? An Israeli company says it has developed a prototype charger that can fully charge a mobile device in 30 seconds.

The company, Tel Aviv-based StoreDot, is a spinoff from the nanotechnology department at Tel Aviv University, and its work-in-progress battery charger was shown publicly for the first time at Microsoft's Think Next conference, held this week in that city. The Think Next conference focuses on high technology in Israel. The original research at the university began with the discovery of nano-structures related to Alzheimer's disease, and additional investigations revealed their peculiar properties.

The prototype charger, currently designed for the Samsung Galaxy S4, is as large as the one for a laptop, although the company says it is working on getting the product smaller. Samsung is reportedly one of the investors in the company.

Release Date: 2016

The company has said it is expecting to release within a year a functional prototype that can fit inside a smartphone. The target release date is for late 2016, at an estimated price of $30. The charger would require special batteries, such as the ones the company is developing that are said to be able to handle thousands of charge/discharge cycles.

Doron Myersdorf, the company's chief executive, has told The Wall Street Journal that, "if everything works, and we have a lot of evidence that it will do, we have a revolution in many devices -- memory, batteries, the display, image sensors." In addition to fast-charging batteries, the other near-term product for the company is the development of screen displays without cadmium, a toxic substance.

Peptides, or short-chained amino acids, are the organic compounds used to build the biological semiconductors the company utilizes. Those organic semiconductors are tiny, uniform nano-crystals called quantum dots. Under mechanical strain, they can display optical or electrical properties. Among other things, they can improve electrode capacitance and increase the performance of electrolytes.

Self-Assembly

Myersdorf has told news media that one side of the electrode acts like a very fast charging supercapacitor, and the other like a slow-discharging lithium electrode. The company's nanodots improve this kind of multifunction electrode. While quantum dots ordinarily have been developed with toxic metals, StoreDot's use more environmentally friendly organic materials. The dots also self-assemble themselves using biological methods, so the manufacture costs are low.

Useful properties of the nanodots, according to the company, include color vividness for bendable and paper-thin displays, the ability to extend battery life into thousands of charge/discharge cycles and bio-compatibility that could be employed in medicine.

On its Web site, StoreDot says that, in addition to batteries and chargers, it has its sights on environmentally friendly flexible displays, bio-LEDs, bio-lasers, and applications in nano-medicinal technology, including drug delivery, food security labeling and other areas.

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