Want to charge your phone from flat to full in 30 seconds? Who doesn’t. But don’t get too excited yet — Israeli startup StoreDot‘s bio-organic fast-charging battery tech, which utilizes quantum dot technology, is only a prototype right now.
It’s not a full capacity battery yet either. And they haven’t yet shrunk the tech so it’s small enough to fit inside the phone, as is evident in the above demo video.
But the startup, which has raised $6.25 million to-date and whose investors are rumoured to include Samsung, is planning to do all that. It reckons the speedy charging battery technology could be on the market within three years.
“We are about one year from a functional prototype that will be inside the device,” StoreDot’s CEO and founder Dr Doron Myersdorf tells TechCrunch. “Right now we show a battery that extends beyond the form factor of the smartphone. So in one year we’ll have reached the size, and in two years we’ll reach the required energy density for the entire day.
“So we are talking about three years for a commercial ready device. So I assume it will be three years before you can actually purchase it on the market.”
StoreDot is showing off the battery demo at the Think Next symposium taking place in Tel Aviv today. The technology was actually spun out of research being done into Alzheimer’s disease at Tel Aviv University. That work identified the peptides (amino acids) that are now being put to work in StoreDot’s bio-organic battery.
“When the self-assembly process of these molecules can be managed, we can create nano-crystals,” says Myersdorf, discussing how the technology works. “We were able to take the same peptides that participate in biological processes in our body and to create nano-crystals — these are stable, robust spheres.
“The diameter of these sphere is 2.1 nanometer. Very, very tiny. And these can be used, because they have special properties and they are robust, in a semi-conductor device or in a battery or in a display. We are talking about new type of materials that can be introduced into different types of devices.”
StoreDot’s original focus for the nano-crystals was memory chips — which could write faster than traditional flash memory. It has also demoed an image sensor using the technology. But it’s now shifted its focus to what it sees as the two most promising near-term routes to commercialize the technology: fast-charging smartphone batteries, and cadmium-free displays — with its nano-crystal tech offering a cheaper and non-toxic alternative to cadmium in screens.
“We’ve demonstrated an iPhone display that the active material which emits light is a bio-organic material that is created by our compounds. This will be the first ever bio-organic display,” says Myersdorf. “We already demonstrated all the colours… we can bring the entire RGB spectrum for the display so now it’s all a matter of being able to reach the lifetime and the efficiency similar to cadmium.”
The big challenge for StoreDot is getting an industry that’s used to building electronics one way to switch to something new and different, says Myersdorf — even though that alternative may ultimately be cheaper and less toxic than existing manufacturing materials and processes.
“The only disadvantage is that the industry is not ready for it. The ecosystem is not ready,” he says. “This is a new type of material, with new physics, new chemistry, that is actually coming from nature… Everything we do we try to imitate and to follow and to let nature take its course. To create these nano-crystals we don’t need a huge fabrication facility. We mix some basic elements — like hydrogen, nitrogen, helium.”
Myersdorf said StoreDot is therefore considering building its own facility to produce its bio-organic smartphone batteries, as a way to speed up their entry to market.
“Our challenge is not only stabilizing our own material but to change the entire ecosystem around the manufacturing of semi-conductor and batteries in order to be able to accommodate bio-organic material,” he adds.
“If we invest in our own facility we can make the batteries in a very short cycle. If we need to teach someone else how to change their facility it might take too long — so it’s better to build this from scratch instead of to modify an existing facility.”
StoreDot is just starting the process of raising its next tranche of funding — looking to raise around $20 million. Shouting about the big-picture benefits of its nano-crystal technology via today’s demo is clearly part of that fundraising drive.
“The vision is, that once the industry as a whole — I’m talking semi-conductors, energy storage, displays — accepts that these are legitimate, viable, stable, cost-effective materials then our vision is that it will be very well adopted, because it only has advantages,” adds Myersdorf.