Tuesday, 10 February 2015

30 second charging: boon or bane?

Israeli company StoreDot has developed a new battery that could one day allow a phone to be charged in 30 seconds. It seems too good to be true, so we uncover the technology behind the headlines and explore the long term implications.
Small credit card sized smart battery
Accutronics' smallest battery

By Neil Oliver

It's a daily battle; morning, noon or night, come rain or shine, at home or while travelling, it's one of the most annoying daily occurrences. I am of course referring to that moment when your battery dies.

Well, it seems that this problem may not be around for much longer. Israeli company StoreDot has designed a new biological semiconductor material that has some unique characteristics.

Developed from naturally occurring compounds these ‘quantum dots’ are made up of peptides; the short chains of amino acids that form the building blocks of all proteins. When manipulated in the right conditions, these peptides can naturally grow into a crystalline formation in a tight, intricate structure, where the molecules are less than two nanometres apart.

The resultant quantum dot material, exhibits remarkable properties. Its confined nanocrystalline structure means that it can be excited on frequencies in the visible spectrum and, because it’s comprised of semiconductor materials, it is able to hold electrical charge highly efficiently.

What this means is that the same quantum dot material could eventually be used as the device display, the battery and power unit and the memory and storage module all in one. Just think about that for a second, a single panel material can essentially replace the multiple materials and components of current devices.

StoreDot has only just scratched the surface of this technology. Their quantum dot battery charges from flat to full in less than 30 seconds. However, using the same material as an internal layer in a flexible casing could yield a paper thin device, flexible enough to wrap around a wrist or be used as surface materials on public transport and even used for fully digital, yet biodegradable, newspapers and books.

However, it's important to remember that this innovation, whilst potentially revolutionary, must still undergo rigorous testing challenges to ascertain its behaviour in high and low temperatures, its structural integrity under mechanical strain and degradation over time. The cost of production will need to compete with already well established organic materials such as organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) already used widely by device manufacturers.

So is 30 second charging a boon or a bane? For original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), this technology highlights the importance of holistic and integrated design. As we continue to become reliant on wearable and portable medical equipment, the need to match innovative design with reliable, safe and secure battery systems becomes ever more important.

For expert guidance on the best choice of batteries and chargers for your applications please get in touch with sales@accutronics.co.uk for further information.