Good news! Nanotech that can Charge Your Phone in 30 Seconds!


cellphone-hero-620x413Summary: If you’ve ever had just five minutes to charge your smartphone’s flat battery and wished it didn’t take an hour, help is at hand. An Israeli company is working on a nano-material that could see your mobile fully charged in just seconds.

In offices in a dusty street near the Diamond Exchange building in Ramat Gan, something interesting is afoot: a company called StoreDot is working on battery technology that many mobile users will have been longing for for some time.

The basis of StoreDot’s work was discovered during a University of Tel Aviv research project into Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers found that a certain peptide molecule that ‘shortens’ neurons in the brain causing Alzheimer’s was also seeming to show high capacitance, thanks to an ability called ‘charge trapping’ — where electrons are effectively held in place.

According to Professor Gil Rosenman, who worked on the project and is now StoreDot’s chief scientist, two of these molecules can be used to create a viable crystal only two nanometers long. These crystals form the NanoDots at the heart of Storedot’s technology.

Artificially synthesised from the same building blocks — elements such as oxygen and hydrogen — as natural peptides, these NanoDots could prove disruptive to multi-billion-dollar industries such as batteries, displays, image sensors, and non-volatile memory.

Doron Myersdorf, former head of SanDisk’s SSD division and now StoreDot’s CEO, says that the company has decided to focus on NanoDots’ uses in smartphone related technologies, including faster memory; more sensitive camera sensors ultrafast-charging batteries; and flexible, energy-efficient displays.

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Founded in 2012, StoreDot is now chiefly concentrating on the last two areas. Demoing this week at Microsoft’s ThinkNext event in Tel Aviv, StoreDot showed a prototype of a battery using NanoDots — powering a standard Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone — that charged from flat to full in under a minute.

How does it work? The NanoDots cover the tiny ‘cavities’ that cover an electrode found in a standard battery, extending its reactive surface, and allowing its capacity to be increased tenfold.  Through the addition of the NanoDots, the electrode becomes “multi-function” — at one end, the electrode stores electrical energy creating a capacitor, and at the other, lets it flow into the battery’s lithium.

In layman’s terms, StoreDot has created a ‘buffer’ that stores electrical current coming from the wall socket over a period of around thirty seconds, then letting it flow slowly into the lithium. Myersdorf says that eventually, the company plans to get rid of the lithium in the battery altogether.

Changing the chemical reactions occurring inside the battery should also improve battery life in long run — allowing thousands of charge cycles instead of hundreds today — while still keeping the same weight and form factor.

The NanoDots have other intriguing qualities too. When embedded into polymer and everyday screens, they can replace the toxic materials like cadmium used in modern displays. They can also be manufactured in different colours, using a special version of basic colours to create a full, rich colour matrix.

StoreDot’s team, at the behest of manufacturers, is using blue backlighting instead of white, and the NanoDots can be used in both LCD an bio-LED screens — or, in Myersdorf’s words: “We can do displays for both Samsung and Apple”, a reference to the different display technologies each company is using today (Apple with LCD, Samsung with organic LED).

StoreDot already has prototype displays in its lab, and showed me this week how it’s lighting a standard iPhone display. There’s not a full colour range yet — only 70 percent — but the company is working towards more than a full NTSC colour gamut. StoreDot future displays are equally free of toxic materials and, as a bonus, they’re flexible too.

The NanoDots also have applications in the pharmaceutical industry as drug delivery agent and could one day replace metals such a gold or silver currently needed to penetrate cell membranes and deliver the active ingredient.

With several patents filed and several more pending, as well as a big smartphone company onboard as an investor, Myersdorf intends to have his company’s products ready for marketing in 2015 and on sale in 2016. But don’t rejoice too much just yet: StoreDot’s new batteries will cost twice as much as the regular ones.

Researchers use nanomaterial to develop a renewable alternative for crude oil


3D rendered Molecule (Abstract) with Clipping Path(Nanowerk News) Ben-Gurion University of the Negev  (BGU) researchers have developed an innovative process to convert carbon dioxide  and hydrogen into a renewable alternative for crude oil, which could transform  fuels used in gas and diesel-powered vehicles and jets.
The “green feed” crude oil can be refined into renewable liquid  fuels using established technologies and can be transported using existing  infrastructure to gas stations.  The highly efficient advance is made possible  in part using nanomaterials that significantly reduce the amount of energy  required in the catalytic process to make the crude oil.
“We can now use zero cost resources, carbon dioxide, water,  energy from the sun, and combine them to get real fuels,” said BGU’s Prof. Moti  Hershkowitz, presenting the new renewable fuel process at the Bloomberg Fuel  Choices Summit in Tel Aviv on November 13.  Carbon dioxide and hydrogen are two  of the most common elements available on earth.
“Ethanol (alcohol), biodiesel and/or blends of these fuels with  conventional fuels are far from ideal,” Hershkowitz explains. “There is a  pressing need for a game-changing approach to produce alternative, drop-in,  liquid transportation fuels by sustainable, technologically viable and  environmentally acceptable emissions processes from abundant, low-cost,  renewable materials.”
“BGU has filed the patents and we are ready to demonstrate and  commercialize it,” Hershkowitz says.  “Since there are no foreseen technological  barriers, the new process could become a reality within five to10 years,” he  adds.
The BGU crude oil process produces hydrogen from water, which is  mixed with carbon dioxide captured from external sources and synthetic gas  (syngas). This green feed mixture is placed into a reactor that contains a  nano-structured solid catalyst, also developed at BGU, to produce an organic  liquid and gas.
Prof. Moti Herskowitz is the Israel Cohen Chair in Chemical  Engineering and the vice president and dean of research and development at BGU.   He led the team that also includes Prof. Miron Landau, Dr. Roxana Vidruk and  others at BGU’s Blechner Center for Industrial Catalysis and Process  Development.
The Blechner Center, founded in 1995, has the infrastructure and  expertise required to deal with a wide variety of challenging topics related to  basic and applied aspects of catalysis and catalytic processes. This was  accomplished with major funding from various sources that include science  foundations, industrial partners and individual donors such as the lateNorbert  Blechner. Researchers at the Blechner Center have also developed a novel process  for converting vegetable and algae oils to advanced green diesel and jet fuels,  as well as a novel process for producing zero-sulfur diesel.
“Ben-Gurion University’s Blechner Center has been at the  forefront of alternative fuel research and development, working with major  American oil and automotive companies for more than 20 years,” says Doron  Krakow, executive vice president, American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of  the Negev.  “We applaud these new developments and BGU’s focus on giving the  world new technologies for more efficient, renewable fuel alternatives.”
Source: American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the  Negev

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