Waiting hours for your smartphone to charge can be a real nuisance, but a new chip may help you reach full charge in as long as it takes to brew and drink your morning cup of tea.
A smart chip about the size of a fingernail has been developed by Professor Rachid Yazami of Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NUS) and could drastically change the way we charge our devices.
With the chip small enough to be embedded in most batteries, Dr Yazami hopes it will be incorporated into everything from smartphones to electric cars, and he intends to start discussions with Tesla about what the chip could do for the market leading car brand.
Tesla wouldn't be alone if it expresses an interest. KVI, the company Dr Yazami set up to market the chip, has already held talks with Sony, Sanyo and Samsung.
Dr Yazami claims the chip, which took five years to develop, will not only slash charging times, but reduce the risk of battery fires as well.
Charge me up
"Although the risk of a battery failing and catching fire is very low, with the billions of lithium-ion batteries being produced yearly, even a one-in-a-million chance would mean over a thousand failures," he said.
Lithium batteries currently have energy drip-fed into them to avoid overheating, but the new chip allows them to be recharged at full speed.
This is achieved via a unique algorithm that precisely measures the amount of charge left in a battery, depending on temperature and voltage. Paired with a similar chip in the charger, the chip ensures that the battery is charged optimally.
Dr Yazami explained: "Current chargers do not take into account the health of a battery when charging it. They send the same amount of charge regardless of the battery's condition. With this chip, the charge can be regulated to avoid damaging the battery."
According to NUS, the chip should be ready for licensing by chipmakers and battery manufacturers by the end of 2016.
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