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A Faster Charge in Your Phone’s Future

Did you know one of the most common frustrations with cell phones and other portable electronics is the loss of battery power when one most needs or wants to use a device? To work toward a solution to this problem, Intel International Science and Engineering Fair1 (Intel ISEF) and Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award winner Eesha Khare has developed a technology that could vastly improve the performance of portable energy source.

Like most teenage girls, Eesha Khare hated it when her cell phone battery died, leaving her disconnected from friends and family. But unlike most teenage girls, Eesha decided to do something about it. If the problem was lack of battery power, she would find a way to increase it. And not just for her own purposes.

With the rapid adoption rate of portable electronics, Eesha recognized a societal need. Though cell phones and other portable devices had become more technologically advanced in recent years, the batteries that powered them had not. The batteries used today are essentially the same batteries of yore, and they are simply not ideal for portable electronics because of their slow charging time and short cycle life. As a result, there is a crucial need for more efficient energy storage devices.

To address this need, Eesha began to look at portable energy storage in a new way, considering how nanomaterials could make a difference. The result: Eesha developed a new kind of super capacitor, a tiny, energy-efficient storage device that allows an LED to fully charge within 20-30 seconds. Because the super capacitor is small and flexible, it could one day be used not only in portable electronics, such as cell phones, but in electric clothing that keeps people warm in Arctic conditions or lights up to provide visibility in the dark. It may also have applications in electric cars and wind turbines.

One thing’s for sure: Eesha’s innovative research, which earned top honors at the 2013 Intel ISEF and catapulted her into the media spotlight, may help people have power when they most need or want it, whether making an important phone call or reading the final pages of a thriller on an e-reader during the daily commute.

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Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

A program of Society for Science & the Public, Intel ISEF is the world’s largest pre-college science competition with over USD 4 million in awards.

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1. A program of the Society for Science & the Public.