An Israeli startup spun out of Tel Aviv University on the strength of technology originally developed to fight Alzheimer's Disease claims to be able to fully charge a cellphone in 30 seconds using semiconductors made from short-chain amino acids.
StoreDot demonstrated its prototype, which is the size of a laptop charger, at Microsoft's Think Next technology conference in Tel Aviv April 4 and announced $6 million in venture capital its CEO said would help the company bring a half-size version to market by 2016.
The charger is built using semiconductors made from an organic polymer rather than inorganic silicon-based polymers. The announcement comes at a time when the field of different wireless charging standards seems to be narrowing.
The material is based on artificially created peptides -- amino acids that link end to end in a chain that doesn't extend far enough to allow the amino acid to qualify to be a protein.
StoreDot creates the amino acids and grows them into crystals no more than two nanometers long, which can be persuaded to self-assemble into quantum dots -- bits of material only a few molecules in size but which sometimes demonstrate useful optical or electric properties.
Some are also piezoelectric, meaning they generate electricity under mechanical pressure. They all glow red, green, and blue when bathed in red light -- meaning they could be developed into material for OLED displays, using the same manufacturing techniques available now, but at about one tenth the cost existing materials, according to Doron Myersdorf, CEO of StoreDot, speaking to the Wall Street Journal for a story from November 13.
The crystal particles are the right nanoscale size and have the semiconducting characteristics to fit the definition of quantum dots, or nanodots, which are used in solar cells, LEDs, medical imaging systems, and other right nanoscale size to qualify as quantum dots, which were considered to be exclusively inorganic until a research paper published in Nature in 2010 showed they could be made using peptides or other materials, which had lower toxicity and easier biodegradability than the inorganics and were also comparatively cheap to manufacture at high levels of purity, according to an April 8 story in the Sydney Morning Herald.
The crystals are only two molecules in size -- one 60th the size of the HIV virus, according to the WSJ. But the crystalline structure "means they are stable. They can also hold a charge. That means we can actually create a memory," according to Gil Rosenman, who is currently chief scientist of StoreDot.
Rosenman was a researcher at the University of Tel Aviv until a few years ago, when he realized there could be a wider range of uses for the peptide being tested to see if it would be able to shrink neurons in the brains of Alzheimer's victims.
The peptide was able to trap a charge, creating a natural nanoscale capacitor that could, if enough were assembled in one place, quickly take and hold a relatively large amount of electricity and then discharge it in a controlled way far more quickly than chemical batteries.
Materials made from the peptide nanodots are wrapped around electrodes like those in normal batteries, multiplying the total reactive surface and allowing the electrode to act as a capacitor at one end and as a normal battery trickling a charge into a lithium battery at the other, according to ZDnet. The result is a ten-fold increase in electrical capacity and the ability to safely charge a specially modified Samsung Galaxy 5 in less than a minute.
"In essence, what we have developed is a new generation of an electrode with new materials -- we call it MFE -- Multi Function Electrode. One side acts like a Supercapacitor (very fast charging), and the other is like a Lithium electrode (slow discharge). The electrolyte is modified as well with our nanobots in order to allow for the multifunction electrode to be effective... We are aiming for the same capacity as a Li-ion battery... Self discharge is similar to Li-ion as well," Myersdorf told TheNextWeb.
There is still at least a year or two of work to be done before the StoreDot charger is ready for commercial use, though its OLED-like smartphone displays may develop more quickly.
The charger, about the size of a laptop charger, should be half that size when it hits stores. The company will also sell batteries, which should cost about twice the price of normal lithium-ion.