New Supercapacitor Developed By 18-Year-Old Could Charge Cell Phones In 20 Seconds

A supercapacitor developed by an 18-year-old from California could charge cell phones in as little as 20 seconds. This new invention was one of the two winners of the Young Scientist Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix. The new device fits inside cell phone batteries, providing near-instantaneous charging capabilities.

Eesha Khare, the inventor of the new superconductor, is a high school student, and a native of Saratoga, NY. The high school senior has always had an interest in nanotechnology and her knowledge of this area of science allowed her to radically shrink the most modern current designs.

This new supercapacitor also has a much longer lifespan that ordinary cell phone batteries. Whereas traditional models can only be charged 1,000 times or so, Kahre's new device can be charged ten times as often before needing replacement.

Khare said, "I developed a new supercapacitor, which is basically an energy storage device which can hold a lot of energy in a small amount of volume."

The device was developed in Khare's spare time. It was inspired by the teen becoming frustrated that her cell phone battery was dead so often. Applications of the new device could also extend to car batteries. So far, however, the new supercapacitor has only been used to power an LED light. But, the device has another advantage over traditional cell batteries.

Khare said, "It is also flexible, so it can be used in roll-up displays and clothing and fabric. It has a lot of different advantages over batteries in that sense." This could allow for soft, flexible clothing that would be able to hold an electric charge. This could lead to the development of soft, wearable communications devices like those seen on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Intel prize also came with a $50,000 award. Kahre says she intends to use the money for college, although she is likely to receive several scholarships for her work on the new design. The young inventor will be attending Harvard University in the fall.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, sponsored by the Society for Science and the Public, wrapped up on May 17th. Over 1,600 students came to the event from 70 countries around the world. It is the world's largest science fair for students in grades 9-12. 

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