How to fully charge our laptop or phone in a minute? Revolutionary "missing link" hides clue

A newly identified missing link could help science find out how to revolutionise electronic power storage and charging capabilities for devices and electronic cars.

A new technology insight could lead to a revolution in the speed of charging electronic devices like smartphones and electric vehicles.
A new technology insight could lead to a revolution in the speed of charging electronic devices like smartphones and electric vehicles.

Research from University of Colorado at Boulder reveals a clue to the mystery of how to develop quickly charging technologies for laptops, phones and similar electronic devices, as well as electric vehicles (EVs).

It is not quite yet technically possible to charge our devices in as quick as a minute, let alone an electric car in ten minutes, but now research steers science in a direction where this kind of technology could be more easily developed.

Researchers show in their recent publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, how paying attention to ions, charged particles, in a complex network of tiny pores, can improve the design of supercapacitors – on which power storage tech larges relies on in the 21st century.

Why supercapacitors?

Supercapacitors are energy storage devices that use the structure and movement of ions in their pores to rapidly charge and have longer lifespans than batteries. Prof. Gupta and co-author of the study was inspired to apply his chemical engineering knowledge to advance energy storage devices because of the importance of energy in the future of planet.

“The primary appeal of supercapacitors lies in their speed,” Gupta said. “So how can we make their charging and release of energy faster? By the more efficient movement of ions.”

Gupta said. “It felt like the topic was somewhat under-explored and as such, the perfect opportunity,” who explained also that chemical engineering methods are used to understand flow in porous minerals such as petroleum reservoirs and water systems, but have not been harnessed in maximum capacity within energy storage systems.

No doubt, there is already a demand for more efficient electronic devices, particularly those that can charge electronic equipment speedily.

Revolutionary “missing link” to power up electric storage

The research step is described as a breakthrough which can lead to more energy efficient storage devices being developed through supercapacitors. This is an example where a convergence of disciplines or insights from one field can benefit another in innovative ways.

This advance could transform not only the reliability of EVs, which is a current concern because of their need for frequent, lengthy charging, but on a broader scale, power grids. Changing energy demands require efficient storage to avoid waste during periods of less demand and a reliable supply when demand is higher.

It even changes the understanding of current flow gained in the school years from Kirchoff’s law which describes how currents move in electric circuits. Here, ions move because of electric fields and diffusion, unlike electronics, which movements different at the “crossroads” of pores compared to what Kirchhoff described in history.

Before, the movement of ions were only described in one straight pore as opposed intersections, but here, ion movement is in a complex framework of interconnected pores. This is why Gupta said, to the science world’s excitement, “we found the missing link.”

Source of the science news:

A network model to predict ionic transport in porous materials. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Available at: