Meet The Teen Whose Invention Could Charge Your Phone In Seconds

While you are hanging out on the Internet (in your underwear, maybe?) on a Sunday, kids that are smart than either you or I are out there getting ready to change the world. Eesha Khare, for instance, not only invented a super-capacitor that could someday charge your phone in 20 seconds; she also won $US50,000 for it.

Khare is one of the three big winners from the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. She and 17-year-old Henry Lin (who created a model that simulates thousands of galaxies) picked up Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Ionut Budisteanu won the Gordon E. Moore Award and $US75,000 for his AI model that could lead to a cheaper self-driving car. Khare's invention is the one with some really immediate potential though, and quick-charging phones is something we all want.

So far, the super-capacitor has only been tested to light up a LED, but it was able to do that wonderfully and the prototypes new format holds potential to be scaled. It's also flexible and tiny, and should be able to handle 10,000 recharge cycles, more than normal batteries by a factor of 10.

It's a great step in the right direction, especially since we all know that battery life is the most important feature a phone can have. But like all super-capacitor tech, it's not exactly close to commercial development yet. But hey, if an (admittedly super smart) 18-year-old can get this stuff figured out, multi-national corporations with an even bigger cash profit incentive on the table should be able to as well, right? Hurry up already. I'll take either solution so long as one comes soon. [Intel via NBC News]

WATCH MORE: Science & Health News


    Was the fact that you typed "one" instead of "won", and "smart" instead of "smarter" (in the first paragraph) a pun about kids being smarter than us? :-P

    Last edited 19/05/13 2:05 pm

      If it wasn't you just gave the author a good cover.

      "Ahh, yeah, it was totally ironic...Or something..."

    we all know that battery life is the most important feature a phone can have.
    You know, apart from like, making actual phone calls

      Yes....people don't buy smart phones to make calls. If you're just figuring this out then you are a bit slow.

        You may note that the quote I have included, which clearly shows, and is confirmed by re-reading the body of the article, that the author NEVER ONCE used the term "smart phone".
        Yes, battery life is a major issue. However, to claim that battery life is a higher priority than being able to make calls from, like, A FREAKIN' TELEPHONE, is retarded.
        I still rock a GNEX, waiting for a couple more paydays til I can go and buy the latest and hottest again, and I must assume that you rock an IPOD touch of some description, since battery life for bells and whistles is more important than a device's primary use.
        In closing, go and ask your teacher what 'sarcasm' means.
        P.S. If her device can charge a phone 20 seconds, it takes some of the urgency out of extending battery life, no?

        Last edited 19/05/13 9:28 pm

          You know if your phone runs out of battery you can't make a phone call with it, right?

            Let me explain slowly. a phone will not work with a dead battery, correct.
            a battery does not make phone calls, the point you don't seem to get
            There are numerous emergency charging solutions available cheaply

            If the battery life of your phone does not meet your needs, I suggest you may not have used the relevant criteria to purchase your phone, your needs have changed or maybe you insist on multitasking when unnecessary, leaving radios on when not in use and having the screen set to full brightness constantly with no screen lock.

              The aauthor didn't say "Faulty Phone". They said phone, which would imply the calls feature would come as standard.

                And battery life doesn't come as standard? Okay then.

                  No it's plugged in. My laptop won't hold any charge but I can use it if its plugged in. Le problem

          I'd say the ability to make calls is basically a given. Unless I'm mistaken, these days if you're not able to make a call, it's more likely that it's an issue with reception rather than the phone itself, and as far as I'm aware, reception doesn't seem to differ too much between models but ratherm ore dependent on your telco.
          So really, I think you're being a little too pedantic just to make a point.

          I disagree, just because you can charge your phone in 20sec, it doesn't mean you have the means to do it, i.e. you might not access to power 24/7. Therefore , battery life is still important.

          However, I don't know why this author brought up battery life, because he clearly never states that the super capacitor has a larger capacity than current batteries or can last longer on a single charge, only that the SC can handle more recharge cycles.

          And you're right he didn't say "smart phone", maybe we was referring to home phones that have no batteries, cause that would make more sense.

          If we were to talk about smart phones, I would think there would be many people that would argue that the primary function of a phone these days is not to make phone calls. I use mine mainly for emails and messaging.

            Yep, with ya on that. Here's the thing, If you don't have constant,reliable access to power, the HTC One, for example, isn't really going to be a suitable device. You make sacrifices to achieve a balance between what you need and what you can get.
            Look, the citation of the lack of smart phone mention was a bit of a linguistic dodge,

              ...cont> I mentioned earlier the sarcasm. al87's original reply to me suggested I'm slow. Again , I have a most capable (not THE MOST) handset in the Gnex which I am about to upgrade, and a first week purchase N7. So having had my pride breathed upon, his statement that people don't buy smart phones to make calls. People buy smart phones because they are conditioned to, told to, and increasingly unable to as Apple and Android continue to dominate the market, and older "dumb" and/or "feature" phones are no longer supported by the carriers.
              These 'people'; are they ALL the People? A percentage of these people? What percentage? source? Maybe it's just the people you talk to. I don't know. Fact is, people (that don't read tech blogs) buy what they have put in front of them. The presenter/s can be anyone from their child or parent to family and friends, their local stores, TV advertising, print, the sexy blonde that might have noticed you. People buy smart phones, and IMO a lot will use them as if they were simply more aesthetic dumb phones, the middle level "feature' phone user will use the same features as their old phone.
              The post script explained. If there is no power to connect to, it doesn't matter how quickly it charges. What it DOES though, is to make a charge possible virtually anywhere power IS available without the need to sit around waiting.

                You, and everyone replying (inc me) are wasting everyones time. Back to the real issue, this technology goes BEYOND mobile phones. Think of every single gadget that is limited by battery!

                Ahh, @eclipsoid - trying to teach the internet to stop dreaming things will be better than they are now in the future.

                Give it up now kids, because @eclipsoid says it isn't worth anything. Just settle.

      Can't make a phone call with an empty battery.

      In case you haven't noticed, phones are generally used for internet and media first and calls second. How often do you need to check an email, Facebook, use maps or brows the web? Constantly, all day. When do you need to make a phone call? maybe a couple of times a day.

      Communication has changed, and when someone says "phone" it automatically means "smartphone," because that's what phones are these days.

      Battery life is the most important feature in a phone because it's already a given that any phone can make calls, access the internet and use apps as a standard. People want to know how long they can do these tasks for.

      You know, apart from like, making actual phone calls
      Didn't the iphone 4 prove that it wasn't a real requirement? *ducks for cover*

    Wow... that guy holding the flag at 0:21 is seriously excited. Good on him though, obviously amped about the win.

      Hahaha yes, I thought the same thing... he's about to explode rainbows.

    "She also ONE $US50,000 " really?! WTF? Who writes this shit?

    Good stuff, congratulations to all three winners. Nice to see yanks inventing something for the benefit of mankind for a change, rather than destroying it.

    Last edited 19/05/13 3:29 pm

      Never mind all the inventions from Intel, Fairchild, Bell and the many many others from the East coast to the West coast of the USA in the decades gone by.

      God knows that solid transistors, plana and microprocessors didn't at all revolutionise the world.

        Don't forget aeroplanes, maple cured bacon, Iron Man and deep fried Oreos as well.

        I like posts like yours because it gives me an excuse to go research all the niche history of individual devices.

        So the solid state transistor has a colourful history. It was patented in the 20s by a Canadian and a German independently, though the materials to actually build it weren't around yet. It was first built in 40s by three men from Bell Labs in the US (one of which was born in China and another in England) and the design was carefully adjusted specifically to avoid the earlier patents. Simultaneously, it was also developed in France by German physicists, and this version was actually the first to be mass produced. The Americans got the Nobel prize, but who 'invented' it comes down to how you look at invention - the guy who came up with the idea, the guy who built the idea but couldn't market it, or the guy who built and successfully marketed the idea.

        I don't know what 'plana' is (or what it was a typo for) so I can't look at that one =(

        Microprocessors are another soup of vagueness. NASA's Apollo computers were a strong influence but they weren't particularly small, and what really constitutes 'micro' is a bit poorly defined. That said, it's unequivocally American. The three contenders for the crown were Garrett AiResearch, Texas Instruments and our good friends Intel. Suffice to say, out of those companies, we know which one capitalised on its market potential best.

        From @hypnerotomachia, aeroplanes are another one of those big mixed soups. The first flight was by Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier in a hot air balloon in France. The fixed-wing aeroplane design with separate control systems was invented by Sir George Cayley from England. The first powered flight was by Jean-Marie Le Bris from France, and the earliest successful heavier-than-air craft were mostly German in origin. The first real aeroplane is mostly considered (except for the Americans) to be the Eole, a fixed wing, heavier-than-air, steam-powered aircraft that took off of its own power and carried its pilot a short distance, and did it in 1890, in France, by Clement Ader. Of course, what the Wright brothers were very good at was commercialising their success and defending their claim against challengers, rightfully or wrongfully. History is written by the victors, as they say.

        Bacon, because who doesn't love bacon? The word seems to have originated in ancient Germanic and is probably more than 3000 years old. Cured bacon is nearly as old, because how else would people be able to enjoy their delicious bacon before the advent of refrigerators and supermarket distribution systems? Maple- cured bacon seems to have equally vague origins, but I tracked down two mainly accepted origins: the American south, or British Canada. Both seem to have equally strong (that is to say, equally weak) claims to the name, but personally I feel like Canada has a stronger claim, seeing as maple syrup is basically their National Thing.

        It's a little known fact, but Iron Man creator Stan Lee is actually north Sudanese. He's sensitive about his pale skin so don't bug him about it or anything >.>

        Deep fried Oreos we can probably safely give to the US there. Sadly this is one area of great historical importance that is insultingly poorly documented. This should be rectified immediately. I'll be petitioning the Library of Congress to dedicate top men to this task.


          Try Planar transistors.

          Sometimes simply inventing something new is just not enough, finding a commercial application is often just if not more important that the invention itself. Whats the point of making something if no one uses it?

          Sure things may have been invented or reworked by a Brit and Chinese man, bank rolling the development would have been paramount to their success.

            If commercialisation is the key, then that would make the Wright brothers the inventors of flight, and the French the inventors of the solid-state transistor, as the French version of the invention was first successfully deployed in their telephone system.

            I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other, personally. I tend to value commercialisation less than a functional prototype though, I suppose because actual commercialisation is dependent on factors beyond the invention itself. Still, there's something to be said for commercial success. Just ask Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse =)

            Last edited 21/05/13 11:26 am

              I invented the meatnut. The donut made out of meat instead of dough. Best. Thing. Ever. (You should have worked at Coles with me in the late 90's).

              I would argue that maple syrup is more a 'native American' thing and doesn't suffer the same barriers that North America enjoys now. Canadian maple syrup in those delicious, tasty, tins of goodness is the best though...

              Edit: parenthesis.

              Last edited 21/05/13 9:32 pm

      Does the future of mandkind rely on good batteries?

        Obviously, decent battery life justifies the death of nearly 1 million innocent men, women and children in Iraq, and Christ knows how many in Afghanistan. That whole country is screwed in the head man. They are the lowest form of life on earth.

        Last edited 20/05/13 2:32 pm

        The future of mankind relies on poor batteries. I mean, let's face it, when the robots start their killing spree, our only respite will be when their batteries run out because they forgot to bring their charger.

    so, 1Ah battery charged in 20 seconds is few hundreds Amperes. that is trouble. i think this is a lie.

      1Ah would be it's output capacity, not charge rate.

      If you listen to her interview she says she gave it a 20 second charge and it powered an LED device. I think one reporter took that to mean "INVENTION CHARGES PHONES IN 20 SECONDS" and everyone else just jumped on the bandwagon since no one knows how electricity works. She seems pretty damn smart, I'd love to hear her talk about energy/power density, voltage, capacitance, ESR, all the kinds of things we could expect from the new tech, but they haven't included any of the technical info even in that interview.

      I mean I have 2 EDLC caps on my desk powering an LED right now. I'd love to hear how this invention is going to up the ante. Lower ESR? Higher voltage limit? I'd really love to know but the press is sticking to "totally going to charge our smart phones faster you guys", rather than any meaningful information. I bet you half of them don't know what a capacitor is.

    Congrats to these kids for applying their theoretical knowledge to very practical applications. Considering the exponential growth in technology over the last 20 years, the next 5 will probably make redundant everything we hold dear today.
    It is the ability of these students to work with an open mind and no barriers to what is possible that will ensure our continued scientific progress. Well done! They are an inspiration to my children and I hope they deep the rewards of their talent.

    I think daddy helped her with this... just like all the other kids and their science projects.

    There are already inventions underway that do exactly what her's is supposed to do, further along in development, but even those aren't near to production yet. So we may get our batteries charged faster, but probably not from her project.
    Of course it's still a fantastic achievement, there's no denying that.

    I'm pretty sure this discussion has been had before ...but 1Ah in 20sec....that might get a little hot, don't think that's going in my pocket......

    Why do I get the feeling this will be turned into some fancy new guidance system for a tomahawk missile ?

    Having to Charge a Battery still bewilders me, when we have Microwave technology,
    decades old. Its really all about profits.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now