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Back to Blog • Posted on July 3, 2014 by admin
In our mobile device-fueled modern age, the concept of a device’s battery life is an often scrutinized aspect of their performance, and it seems that the most advanced devices can barely last a full twelve hours before rudely demanding the sweet nectar of electricity. Aside from our consumer devices, the concepts of battery capacity and a devices ability to retain that capacity throughout multiple charges have severely limited the adoption of renewable energy has lithium-based batteries have essentially plateaued and are no longer adequate for more advanced technology. But, as the old adage goes necessity is the mother of invention and one could imagine that it would only be a matter of time before someone discovered a new material or method, but in this case it was a high school student from Sacramento, California who is leading the charge. Pun intended.
Meet Eesha Khare
In 2013, Eesha Khare presented her findings on the implementation of nanotube supercapacitors into consumer electronics at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and the world was stunned to discover that she had developed a working prototype of a high-capacity battery that could charge in seconds. She noted that she was inspired simply by the common experience of having a dead phone in the most desperate situations, and her curiosity was likely encouraged by her parents, an engineer and a biologist. While she did not pioneer nanotube supercapacitors, she presented one of the first practical applications for the technology and has shown the technology community just how great the potential for it can be.
Nanotube Supercapacitors 101
Today’s average mobile device uses a lithium-ion rechargeable battery which was introduced in 1991 as a super-efficient alternative to standard alkaline batteries. For those uninitiated to electrochemistry, all batteries share the same basic components; a positive terminal or the cathode, a negative terminal or the anode, and a medium material for the current to pass through or the electrolyte. In lithium-ion batteries, the cathode is usually a lithium oxide, the anode is carbon, normally in the form of graphite, and the electrolyte is a mixture of organic carbonates. In the case of the supercapacitor Ms. Khare used in her presentation, the storage device replaces the use of commercial graphite with carbon nanotubes, which are cylindrical carbon molecules that conduct electricity exceedingly well making it very fast charging as well as able to hold a greater charge than current storage devices. The supercapacitor then has the nanotubes, the metal oxide, and the electrolyte pressed between two layers of flexible plastic and this construction provides the nanotube supercapacitor another massive advantage as its flexibility makes it applicable to clothing, flexible devices, and much more.
Needless to say, Eesha Khare has received quite a few job offers from Silicon Valley and its inspiring to think what she could develop next.