30-second smartphone charge demonstrated using biological semiconductors

I’d find this video hard to believe were it not for its credentials. The WSJ reports that StoreDot, the start-up behind the technology, has its background in the Nanotechnology department of Tel Aviv University, and it’s been demonstrated at Microsoft’s Think Next conference.

Ultra-fast battery charging has been seen before, but using special (and not very portable) battery technology. This system charges batteries compact enough for smartphones. It’s demonstrated here with a Samsung Galaxy S3, but the company says that it plans to make versions for other phones, which will could certainly include the iPhone … 

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StoreDot claims the commercial version of the charger will only cost around twice as much as today’s chargers. However, it seems the company still has some work to do to turn it into a commercial product: production isn’t expected to begin until late 2016.

The same technology could presumably be used to provide ultra-fast charging of iPads and MacBooks too. If a phone can be recharged in 30 seconds, perhaps a MacBook could be charged within five minutes or so?

If so, the most exciting thing about this is the possibility it creates for liberating MacBooks from power cables: forget about keeping them plugged in during use, just use them until the battery runs low then recharge them while you make a cup of coffee.

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  1. dirpdiddlydirp - 9 years ago

    Facebook will probably buy these guys.

  2. nyctravis - 9 years ago


  3. bobbell69 - 9 years ago

    This could revolutionise charging. Full stop.

  4. shm1ck83 - 9 years ago

    Ben has probably marked 2017 down in his Calender to get one of these

  5. ikir - 9 years ago

    “the most exciting thing about this is the possibility it creates for liberating MacBooks from power cables: forget about keeping them plugged in during use, just use them until the battery runs low then recharge them while you make a cup of coffee.”
    Which is super wrong, since you will kill fast your lithium battery, less cycle you do more it will last over years. So more time your MacBook and iPhone stay connected to power more years your battery will last in full health.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      I’d gladly replace the battery more often to free it from mains power.

    • Kevin Rye (@RyeMAC3) - 9 years ago

      It’s actually the opposite. Cycling your battery frequently is a good thing. My last MacBook was connected to a docking station for 10 months. The MacBook was always on mains power and was never shut off. Needless to say, the battery was never cycled in 10 months. When I finally went to go use it on the battery, it wouldn’t hold a charge.

    • Martin Robertson - 9 years ago

      You wouldn’t be cycling more often. You’d still charge it whenever it needs to be charged; the only difference is how long the battery takes to charge.

    • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

      Wh… at? Who said anything about increasing the number of cycles?

      • Nathan Pritchard - 9 years ago

        If you currently run your laptop plugged in for some amount of the time that you use it, and then you start plugging it in only when you have to charge the battery, then you will by definition be cycling the battery more often.

        Whether that’s a problem or not is another question.

    • Eric Downs - 9 years ago

      Batteries are like muscles – they’ll die if they’re not used, but they can also prematurely deteriorate with overuse (hence the fact that we’re even talking about cycles). MacBook batteries 6-8 years ago used to have a lifespan of about 300-350 cycles before a noticeable decrease in capacity. Currently generation MacTops are rated for ~1000 cycles. More frequent cycling will still deteriorate the battery, but it’ll still last far longer than they used to.

      • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

        1000 cycles with no significant decrease in capacity would be workable for me: if I used a MacBook every single day, that’s getting on for three years before a battery replacement. To me, that would be a price worth paying to be liberated from cables.

  6. alanaudio - 9 years ago

    A technology that allows such rapid charging could be of immense interest to the electric car industry. One has to wonder what the downside is though ?

    The article doesn’t offer much in the way of explanation and neither does the company’s web site.

  7. lycius84 - 9 years ago

    Only thing I hate about this video is:

    If it only takes 30 seconds why step away from the phone.

    Is he being careful in case the phone explodes.

    Or is it that we are seeing a video that gets sped up and he would be too obvious being there.

    After all the background is static and the only thing we can see move is the screen on the phone.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      I would usually be incredibly skeptical, but the credentials are strong …

      • PMZanetti - 9 years ago

        Credentials are strong? How so?

        WSJ? No. StoreDot? No.

      • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

        Tel Aviv University and Microsoft conference.

    • Shawn Starbird - 9 years ago

      That is a good point. I’ll trust Ben on this one for the credentials, plus the fact that it looks like it is a couple years away.

    • Jamie Buch - 9 years ago

      From the time he plugs in the power and walks off the screen, the phone has charged by 2-3%. You then see his reflection in the display of the device next to the phone, at what appears to be real time and the phone has charged an additional 7-8%. All this take place in a generous 6 seconds thats 1.5% per second. Even after discarding the rest of the video as fake and assuming it slows down around the 50% mark, thats undoubtably faster than my charger now

    • aawmako - 9 years ago

      Be logical–if you’re going to assume it’s fake, you should be assuming that the whole device is fake and that the battery charge gauge on screen is fake rather than that they’d go to all the trouble to actually build something then fudge the video.

      I mean, it would have been far easier to just create an app that made it look like the battery was charging quickly and putting a fake battery-pack-thing on the back than going to the trouble of hooking up a giant external battery (that doesn’t work as advertised), plugging it in to charge, then fudging the video to make the longer charge appear as if it’s going faster than it really is.

      Really–if you’re going to be committing fraud either way, why go to so much trouble only to fake the video when you could just fake the charge screen with so much less work? Because building an actual battery then lying about how well it works is less fraudulent than making it up entirely?

  8. Mike Houston (@kotharx) - 9 years ago

    I don’t think this charges ‘standard cellphone batteries’ – their website says “next-generation Nanodot batteries charge in less than a minute, extending battery life expectancy”, which suggests they are replacement batteries using their nanodot technology. How low charge times extend battery life expectancy I’m not sure – those seem like separate features to me.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      You’re right, Mike: the breakthrough here appears to be an ultra-fast charge battery small enough to fit a cellphone. On battery-life, so long as it’s in roughly the same ballpark as today, I’d say this becomes much less of an issue when you can recharge in 30 seconds. The chargers we see in malls and coffee shops, etc, would be way more useful with this kind of recharge time.

  9. William Robinson - 9 years ago

    What does “will cost twice what current chargers cost” mean? The little wall adapters for USB cables, which cost a few bucks? Or are there costlier chargers out that that I’ve never encountered?

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      It’s a vague term for sure – I suspect deliberately so given they don’t expect to be in production for almost three years.

  10. Toro Volt (@torovolt) - 9 years ago

    Wouldn’t be faster to just swap the battery?

    • Toro Volt (@torovolt) - 9 years ago

      …besides the charger plus AC cable are on the bulky side.

      • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

        How DARE a brand new, bleeding-edge technology have its prototype components be clunky?!

      • Toro Volt (@torovolt) - 9 years ago

        At best the production charger will be as large as an extra battery.
        At that point I’d rather have an extra battery available in my pocket than an AC cord and the charger.

      • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

        I think this depends on usage. For example, for many people, they could have one charger at home, one charger at work, and basically charge it once or twice a day and then have unlimited use of the device without every having to worry about battery power. Also, when a charge is this quick, I could see coffee shops offering them – call into Starbucks for a coffee, recharge your phone while you wait for your drink.

    • o0smoothies0o - 9 years ago

      Maybe with a samsung. Apple will absolutely never allow swapping battery, with good reason. Anyone who thinks it would be a good idea for Apple to allow you to swap batteries is simply an unintelligent person, I mean seriously, that’s just all there is to it. I realize I should post my reasoning, but an unintelligent person won’t get it, and anyone who is intelligent enough to not want this, already knows why it’s a horrible idea (swapping of batteries that is).

      • Toro Volt (@torovolt) - 9 years ago

        Why swapping batteries be a problem? Are you serious?!
        A real problem is running out of battery or the anxiety that comes with it.
        Hundred of gadgets can swap batteries.
        Apple should have at least one model that have that option.
        I’d rather buy that than a horrid battery charger pack.

    • rettun1 - 9 years ago

      This gives some comfort to the users of smartphones with sealed in batteries

  11. I call BS until it’s explained how they got around the C10/C20 rate for charge. Come on, charge a battery in 30 seconds? That will lead to heat and a fire or explosion. The C10/C20 rate is the one thing holding battery technology back; you mean to tell me these guys know how to get around a problem that has existed for at least a hundred years and no one thought to explain that one major detail?

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      IIRC, C10/C20 relates to the chemistry of lead-acid batteries? I presume the characteristics vary by battery technology, and that this particular technology works in a very different way.

    • aawmako - 9 years ago

      First of all, if you’re talking about the C/10 or C/20 rates that are common in large lead-acid or NiMH batteries, Li-ion batteries already can charge at 1C rates for the bulk charge (80%) portion of the curve, so that’s kind of silly.

      And the entire point of fancy new technologies is that, yes, they figured out a new way to do things. Just using basic concepts, if they figured out a way to lower the battery’s internal resistance to an extremely low level, that would enable charging of it at extraordinarily high rates (the demonstration shown is about 90C), since the low resistance would allow high current without overheating the battery.

      Prior to the mid-1970s, lithium as a battery chemistry wasn’t even theorized about. Lead acid was the only common chemistry, with all the problems that chemistry has–weight, deep discharge failure, etc. Then there was NiCd, which had advantages but “memory effect” and poor energy density. Then NiMH which had drastically better energy density and little memory, but terrible self discharge. And over the 25 years between when Lithium battery chemistry was first theorized and the early ’90s, experimentation was done until the technology reached commercialization.

      Now we have Lithium-based batteries that can survive 1000 charge cycles, have fantastic power density, can be wacky shapes, can handle repeated deep discharge cycles, have six times the energy density per weight of a lead-acid battery, and can be charged at 1C up to 80%. That battery would have been a fantasy when I was born.

      Similarly, not so long ago if you told someone you’d be able to build a 10 Farad capacitor the size of a stick of gum that cost a few dollars, they’d laugh in your face and say, “They’ve been making capacitors since the turn of the century. Don’t you think if there was a way to make this sort of magical capacitor they’d have figured it out during the last 70 years?”

      And yet that’s exactly what happened with ultracaps.

      Does that mean that the technology developed by this company will actually end up scaling to practical commercial production? No. And even if there is something to the technology, it could take far longer than their claimed couple of years to commercialize–there have been plenty of news stories about battery breakthroughs (from large, believable companies) over the last decade that simply never amounted to anything because, presumably, they couldn’t turn it into a practical commercial technology.

      But to call BS on a research technology because it does something that devices using traditional chemistry (and very old chemistry, at that) can’t, in an age where nanotechnology is becoming usable, is kind of silly.

  12. PMZanetti - 9 years ago

    This introduces a whole new variable to the “improving iPhone battery life” equation. But it almost seems like the dark side of battery life improvement.

    What if, instead of improving battery capacity or under clocking our mobile processors and graphics….we just create a means to fully charging your battery in 30 seconds? Who cares if it only lasts 5-6 hours of constant use? If you can plug it in for 30 sec and get another 5-6 straight hours, would people be happy?

    I certainly think it would buy some time for battery technology to continue improving at its constant, yet snail-esque pace.

  13. tilalabubakr - 9 years ago

    I truly wish if Apple would buy these guys.

  14. Jurgis Ŝalna - 9 years ago

    How long to discharge? 10 seconds?

  15. This is fantastic, so long as it can become popular before long range wireless charging (I’m talking 15 to 45 sqft) where you can have a wireless charger plugged into at your desk, another in your car, one at home and then malls and stores can scale to cover all areas of their retail environments and your phone would never die. If you think my idea is far-fetched 9to5mac reported this months ago, as being a possible technology to ship with the iWatch.

  16. MaRico NoHands Spikes - 9 years ago

    Who ever will acquire these guys can dominate in the fastest charging niche

    I personally would love to see Apple get them and use it for that edge with future products

  17. A 2005 Toshiba press release touted a new Li-ion battery which “can recharge 80% of a battery’s energy capacity in only one minute.” Toshiba said that they would “bring the new rechargeable battery to commercial products in 2006.”

    In 2008, they announced another breakthrough: a new, much-improved battery, this time a “Super Charge Ion” battery, which would “recharge to 90 percent capacity within 10 minutes.” Ummm… wait.

    I’ve seen announcements like this for more than 10 years, the above are just a few examples from one maker. It’s always just a year or two away.

    I’ll believe it when I see it happen.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      Heh, yeah, and don’t get me started on fuel cell batteries. We were promised 30 days of continuous laptop life at least five years ago …

  18. gipproekt (@gipproekt) - 9 years ago

    happy fools day
    See original video
    Doron Myersdorf StoreDot CEO is great troll.

  19. Matthew A. Bell - 9 years ago

    How long does it take to run out of batteries?

  20. Oflife (@oflife) - 9 years ago

    Why only iPhone, MacBook and iPad? What about all other devices from other vendors than Apple?

    Come on guys, the garden wall must stop at journalism!

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      Our focus is obviously on Apple products, but as it was demo’d on a Samsung phone you can expect to see it in a wide range of products if it makes it to market.

  21. mhuggies - 9 years ago

    This video counters a lot of the concerns posted about here: Myersdorf is happy to sit right beside the phone, so isn’t that concerned about it exploding (not sure I’d be so happy), and it happens in real time. Still easy to fake, with a dummy battery app, but not sure what that would achieve in the long run. Interesting comments from the ‘expert’ in the studio as well



Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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