Supercapacitor Discovery Could Allow Laptops to be Charged in Just 1 Minute, Engineer Claims

Ion Care

A new discovery could pave the way for supercapacitors that can charge phones and laptops in 60 seconds and electric cars in a mere ten minutes.

In a press release, the University of Colorado at Boulder announced that its researchers have achieved a breakthrough when it comes to our understanding of the way charged ion particles behave — a discovery that could be the key to figuring out the logistics for the long-anticipated energy storage capabilities of supercapacitors.

Supercapacitors have long been proposed as a means of charging electronics lightning-fast, but until now, figuring out how to increase the energy density to match or exceed those of lithium-ion batteries has, for the most part, eluded scientists. Compared to conventional batteries, which can store as much as ten times more energy than today’s supercapacitors, this technology has remained in the realm of the possible but not yet practical.

But to chemical and biological engineer Ankur Gupta, lead author of a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesthat could soon change.

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

Great Leap

Gupta and his colleagues claim to have found an update to Kirchoff’s Law, the defining principle in electrical current theory which dictates that voltage must move in specific loops.

As Gupta and his team have discovered, ions move differently through porous environments such as those found in supercapacitors than one would expect when following Kirchoff’s Law strictly — an amendment to the old principle that could revolutionize the storage capacity of the technology.

“That’s the leap of the work,” Gupta said. “We found the missing link.”

The findings, as he suggests in the interview, could have massive implications for “the future of the planet.”

Of course, researchers still have plenty of work to do before the latest discovery can be implemented in next-generation energy storage devices, if at all. It’s still an intriguing peak into the future of the tech.

More on supercapacitors: MIT Scientists May Have Found a Cheap Way of Storing Huge Amounts of Energy in Cement

“That’s the leap of the work,” Gupta declared. “We found the missing link.”

More on electrical updates: Germany Now Has So Much Solar Power That Its Electric Prices Are Going Negative

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