The Genius of Eesha Khare and Battery-less Ultrafast Charging
Revolutionizing future energy storage with supercapacitor technology
The pure genius and unwavering brilliance of a typical teenager who won the second prize in Intel’s coveted ‘Inventor of the Year Award 2013’ is somewhat underrated. Majoring in science, Eesha Khare who hails from Saratoga, California, won Intel’s Young Scientist Award by building a supercharger that could recharge cellphone batteries in seconds, and someday even replace them. Born in 1995 of Indian descent, Eesha Khare developed a supercapacitor prototype that could charge faster and last longer for continuous charging cycles. Then an 18-year-old high school graduate of Lynbrook High, California, she was the runner-up at the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) held in Phoenix, Arizona on 17 May 2013, whereby 1,600 other finalists from over 70 countries participated.
The gadget in question is claimed to charge a mobile device within 20-30 seconds. The ultra-charger itself consists of a compact supercapacitor, tiny enough to fit into a phone. The invention was presented at one of the world’s most prestigious science fairs which won the budding young scientist a cash prize of £33,000. The prize money would go towards funding her studies, as she was offered a place at Harvard. She had also intended to utilize part of her winnings to advancing scientific progress for the benefit of mankind and humanity. Incidentally, tech titans Google also expressed an interest for her innovation.
Being constantly frustrated with low-running battery inspired her to source for a new kind of energy storage. A supercapacitor is in essence a large-capacity storage device that charge up fairly quickly and is capable of dispensing in excess of ten thousand charge cycles, almost ten times the peak performance of conventional batteries. The only drawback with supercapacitors is they hold the charged energy for much shorter durations compared to ordinary batteries. The super-cap used during her experiment had a special dedicated nanostructure, which allowed for enormous energy retention per unit volume. Such tremendous energy density often enables substantially longer charge-holding or storage time.
Cellphone manufacturers have always been searching for a viable method to improve the overall battery life of their mobile devices. Even with the advent of cutting-edge technologies being implemented in smartphones, they still require significantly long periods to reach optimal charging capacity. Groundbreaking technology such as the supercapacitor charger certainly paves the way for greater innovation and breakthrough discovery in the field of nanotechnology and superconductive material. Future generation phones in the coming years will bear witness to the implementation of flexible batteries incorporating carbon fibre infused with carbon nanotubes to increase their structural rigidity and overall flexibility. The application and advantages of such a technology is almost endless.
Eesha’s device is also reputably flexible enough to be used in roll-up displays and fabric-based material. There is a crucial need for energy-efficient storage devices, and her invention has potential or significant applications for car batteries as well. With the rapid growth of portable electronics, it has become increasingly necessary to develop efficient energy-storage technology to match the evolution. Though batteries are often used for energy-storage, they drain charge as fast as they store them. Electrochemical supercapacitors have long attracted the attention of scientists and researchers for years as an ideal energy-storage device as they bridge the gap between the current alternatives of conventional capacitors and portable batteries, offering significantly higher energy density and power output. Despite such advantages, supercapacitor energy density is still much lower compared to that of batteries, henceforth increasing energy density remains a key challenge towards supercapacitor research in the future. – HFM