20-second phone charger invented by NRI teen

 20-second phone charger invented by NRI teen

WASHINGTON: Teenagers of Indian origin won a raft of prizes at the annual Intel science bash in what’s now par for course, but although the top prize eluded them, the most electrifying breakthrough came from Indian-American high-schooler. A device she has developed can fully charge a cell phone in 20 to 30 seconds in what will be a boon for a gazillion mobile users who need to juice up their cell phones quickly.

Eesha Khare, 18, of Saratoga, California received the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award of $50,000 for developing a fast-charging supercapacitor that fits inside a cell phone, charge the battery in under a minute, and hold it for long. Khare says the device will also result in batteries that can last for 10,000 charge-recharge cycles, compared with 1,000 cycles for conventional rechargeable batteries.

“My cellphone battery always dies,” she told journalists in Phoenix where the annual Intel science fiesta for young gearheads took place last week, in an obvious explanation for why she had worked on energy-storage technology, besides the fact that it allowed her to focus on her interest in nanochemistry. She said the technology also has potential applications for car batteries and other devices, while declaring she will be going to Harvard this fall to pursue research in nanochemistry.

Neither Eesha nor Intel offered any details of the breakthrough, which if validated, would be worth tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, revolutionizing battery technology across the board, from mobile devices to computers and cars. The award cited Eesha for “Design and Synthesis of Hydrogenated TiO2-Polyaniline Nanorods for Flexible High-Performance,” geek-speak for developing a new kind of supercapacitor. Typically, supercapacitors have higher energy density than conventional batteries.

To think that phone and battery companies would have overlooked the magic bullet of fast charging battery, manna to all gadget junkies, seems almost inconceivable, but to paraphrase the popular tv program of yesteryears: Kids to the darnedest things.

Meantime, the top prize of $ 75,000, called the Gordon Moore Award after Intel’s legendary co-founder, went to Ionut Budisteanu, 19, of Romania for using artificial intelligence to create a viable model for a low-cost, self-driving car. The teenager’s work found wide appreciation for addressing a major global issue. In 2004, car accidents caused 2.5 million deaths worldwide and 87 percent of crashes resulted from driver error.

With 3-D radar and mounted cameras, Ionut created a feasible design for an autonomously controlled car that could detect traffic lanes and curbs, along with the real-time position of the car – and it would only cost $4,000. Again, this is something many companies, notably Google, has been working on. But the technology from established companies is expected to be far more expensive.

Indian teens also won other prizes, including the top prize for mathematical sciences going to Vinay Iyengar and the top prize for environmental sciences going to Naomi Shah, both of Portland, Oregon.

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