How to charge your smartphone in 30 seconds!

By Michelle Dickinson 10/04/2014

With all the tweeting and checking of e-mail that I do, my phone battery barely makes it to lunchtime without needing a charge, so I was excited when I saw in the press today several articles talking about a company called StoreDot.  Apparently they have built a new battery charger that can charge a smartphone in under 30 seconds and they prove the capabilities in a video demo using a Samsung Galaxy S4 that is about to run out of battery power.

First of all, let me just state that this technology is not going to make my phone’s battery life last any longer than it did previously, however it will mean that I could charge it in a few seconds which is much shorter than the hour or so I put in on charge in the middle of my day.

How do you explain the technology in a simple magic sentence?

A magic nanodot coating stores the electrical current that comes from your plug socket over 30 seconds and flows it slowly into the lithium in the phone battery.


Ready for more detailed science about how it works?
StoreDot produce tiny semiconductors in the form of quantum dots which are nanocrystals of semiconductor material where the size of the dots are so small that quantum mechanics have an effect on the electronic properties. Quantum dots were traditionally made from horribly toxic materials such as arsenic or from heavy metals such as cadmium which meant that they were not safe for commercial use.  It wasn’t until 2010 that a research paper published in Nature showed they quantum dots could be made using peptides, which were less toxic and more biodegradable than the inorganic dots.  Therefore the unique technology that StoreDot has made involves this new way to use bio-organic materials which are much safer.

The diameter of a nanodot used in this charging device is the same as the diameter of DNA!

The diameter of a nanodot used in this charging device is the same as the diameter of DNA!

The safer organic quantum dots (which they call nanodots) are made from naturally occurring organic compounds called peptides. Peptides are short chains of amino acids which make up the building blocks of proteins. These nanodots are really tiny at only 2 nanometers in size which is the same as the diameter of DNA!  The peptides build themselves from a carefully controlled self-assembly process which is what happens naturally in nature, and for these nanodots only two peptides attach to each other for each dot.

Although they are really small the peptides are able to trap a electrical charge which makes them a natural nanoscale capacitor that can quickly take and hold a relatively large amount of electricity and then discharge it in a controlled way.  Due to the high surface area that nanodots have, this process happens far more quickly than in chemical batteries and the capacity can be large if enough nanodots are assembled in one place.

The nanodots are wrapped around electrodes in the same way as those in normal batteries but due to their small size they cover the tiny cavities that naturally occur on an electrode which multiplies the total reactive surface. With the nanodots on the surface, the electrode now becomes a multifunction electrode where one end of the electrode stores electrical energy acting as a capacitor and at the other end it acts like a normal battery trickling a charge into a lithium battery.

Because of the way that the technology works both the charger and the battery will have to be different than conventional ones that come with your phone meaning you will have to buy a whole new kit that is made for your device.

Reports say that the new device isn’t due to go into production until 2016 so you will still have to cope with slow charging between now and then, but it is nice to see a commercial use for the cheaper, non-toxic, organic alternative for making quantum dots.