18-Year-Old Invents 30-Second Phone Charger

Science student Eesha Khare of Saratoga, Calif. won Intel's Young Scientist Award by building a supercharger that slides into your mobile phone's battery, recharging it in seconds.

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Intel / Chris Ayers

Top winner Ionut Budisteanu, 19, of Romania (center) with second-place winners Eesha Khare, 18, of Saratoga, Calif. (left) and Henry Lin, 17, of Shreveport, La. celebrate their awards at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world's largest high school science research competition.

Modern cell phones still take forever to charge, from a brisk but often still inconvenient 20 minutes to upwards of a full hour. So imagine how revolutionary a charger that’d do the job in less than half a minute might be.

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18-year-old Indian-American science student Eesha Khare of Saratoga, Calif. proposed solving the problem using a supercharger that slides into your mobile phone’s battery, allowing it to charge in just 20 to 30 seconds. In fact Khare did more than just propose it, she actually built a tiny super-capacitor and demonstrated its ability to power an LED device. Here’s her description of the project in a California State Science Fair outline:

With the rapid growth of portable electronics, it has become necessary to develop efficient energy-storage technology to match this development. While batteries are currently used for energy-storage, they suffer from long charging times and short cycle life. Electrochemical supercapacitors have attracted attention as energy-storage devices because they bridge the gap between current alternatives of conventional capacitors and batteries, offering higher energy density than conventional capacitors and higher power density than batteries. Despite these advantages, supercapacitor energy density is much lower than batteries and increasing energy density remains a key challenge in supercapacitor research. The goal of this work was to design and synthesize a supercapacitor with increased energy density while maintaining power density and long cycle life.

Mission accomplished: In addition to accolades for actually designing the device, the project secured Khare one of two runner-up spots in Intel’s International Science and Engineering Fair, where she beat out over 1,600 finalists from more than 70 countries, netting her a cool $50,000 in prize money. (The top prize, $75,000, went to 19-year-old Romanian Ionut Budisteanu’s design work on a low-cost autonomous vehicle control system.)

“I’m in a daze. I can’t believe this happened,” Eesha told San Francisco CBS affiliate KPIX 5.

Why’d she pick this particular design challenge? “My cellphone battery always dies,” Khare told NBC News, adding that her device is flexible enough that it could also be used in rollup displays or fabric-based material.

According to Intel, Eesha received its prestigious Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award because she “recognized the crucial need for energy-efficient storage devices,” adding that her invention “also has potential applications for car batteries.” Khare is headed to Harvard this fall, where she plans to continue her research.

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5 comments
jk3498
jk3498

What ingenuity! She'll be a great engineer.

smithjohn1a
smithjohn1a

Sounds like a bright young lady.

Unlike the halfwit who wrote this mostly incorrect and misleading article.

thomasvesely
thomasvesely

i put spinach in the battery slot.

it doesn't really do much.

but it is so cool............

RichardKrupski
RichardKrupski

No offense to her but even the best super capacitor holds less energy per volume per weight than any other battery technology, and right now the only advantage a super capacitor has over normal batteries is it's ability to charge and discharge in seconds. The concept of using super capacitors to power devices is nothing new, people have been using them for powering all kinds of devices for 10 years.

I'll be more surprised when somebody develops a super capacitor that is able to compete with Lithium Ion technology in terms of energy density, but as of now super capacitor technology is WAY behind, and not moving very fast.

alberard46
alberard46

Hey Tesla  ,  give her a call  .....