This lab makes phone batteries that charge in 30 seconds (Wired UK)


Introducing the StoreDot flash-battery

Doron Myersdorf

Welcome to the lab where scientists are building smartphone batteries that fully charge your phone in 30 seconds — and electric-car batteries designed to go from zero to full in a mere five minutes.

StoreDot, a groundbreaking Israeli materials-science startup, opened its doors to WIRED to show how it’s using $66m (£43.43m) in investment funding to solve fundamental technology problems in new ways. The lab-cum-factory, in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, is researching and building products ranging from batteries to ultra-colourful LCD displays — all by designing molecules that previously didn’t exist.

“We’re synthesisng new molecules designed from scratch in our labs,” says Doron Myersdorf, founder and CEO of StoreDot, whose investors include Samsung Ventures, Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, and Singulariteam. “We have 20 PhDs in our lab, imagining new molecules that don’t exist.

“We started with flash memory – wondering how we could write faster to the memory chip. We realised that you didn’t need to list all the materials that were available to work with, materials listed on the periodic table, to explore which one was the best fit for a particular application. We took a different approach — let’s design an organic compound that has the properties required for the application.”


The company grew out of nanotechnology research into treating Alzheimer’s disease at Tel Aviv University. Researchers discovered that two-nanometer-diameter natural crystals — which it calls “nanodots” — had an unusual ability to carry an electric charge and to emit light. They then began working on prototype battery storage systems and new kinds of display screens.

Today, the company is working with Samsung to build phone batteries that can be recharged in less than a minute. Myersdorf showed WIRED a demo of a phone that went from almost empty to near full in around 40 seconds. An earlier prototype, a demo of which went viral on YouTube with more than 3.5m views, showed a battery more than two centimetres thick that didn’t fit inside a smartphone’s body. Today’s battery can fit inside a Samsung phone. The company claims it can charge its batteries 100 times faster than standard Li-Ion batteries, and that they last three years.


In the lab, stacks of disc batteries made of different combinations of materials are being tested for charge uptake and retention. Units of 20 batteries are tested at a time, each with a slightly different chemical composition. The most promising compounds are taken to the next level of research.

“We said, ‘Let’s experiment several times a day,’” says Myersdorf. “We have a very fast feedback loop — we create a material, run it inside a battery, run tests, get initial feedback. This allows us to innovate around new materials. We also have a multidisciplinary team of scientists — you can’t do this with only organic chemists. We also have quantum physicists, electrical engineers, device engineers — they all have their own perspective about how the device will function. The molecule doesn’t know if it’s now doing biology, chemistry or physics.”

Simon Litsyn, StoreDot’s chief technology officer and cofounder, and an electrical-engineering professor at Tel Aviv University, says: “We consider ourselves to be different. All companies we know are very narrow minded, with a very good knowledge of a specific field. We put together people from different disciplines, and see how they work together.

“We have tended to recruit freshmen just after finishing their PhDs. Nobody’s yet put them into a box. Sometimes ignorance about what is a product is a blessing,” Myersdorf adds.


When Samsung first came visiting, Myersdorf says, its engineers understood that this multidisciplinary approach could propel innovation in ways that are harder to achieve inside a big corporation.


“Samsung sent teams to investigate what the best commercial applications might be — they had to bring a parallel team of ten disciplines. There were people from Samsung who had flown here on the same plane and exchanged business cards in our room, because they didn’t know each other. On the OEM side, you see the enthusiasm — to learn the methodology about how we work is very valuable for them.

“In a large organisation, even if you have unlimited resources for research, it takes ages until you can experiment with new materials: you need to assemble a team, you need a budget, you need management support, you need health and safety. In a large organisation, you can’t bypass this. We started from scratch – and said, ‘All the walls are broken, let’s start again. Step by step, let’s create a molecule, then let’s verify it’s what you intended.’”

“We started out with some organic techniques, working on memory, image sensors, lasers, low-K materials for semiconductors, batteries,” Litsyn explains. “We were very keen on memory, working out how to store charge — that’s how we became StoreDot. But soon we understood that the memory field required an investment of several hundred million dollars — and no one was ready to give it at that stage.” Myersdorf adds: “Our out-of-the-box thinking was that you could give less energy to batteries but do it very fast. We have similar thinking in the display field – we can give you OLED quality at a fraction of the price.”

StoreDot announced in August that its latest $18m (£11.84m) funding round would be used to develop its electric-vehicle business unit, including building “the first ever instantly charging car prototype”. It claims its electric vehicle “FlashBattery” halves the cost-per-mile over an electric vehicle’s lifetime, compared to existing battery technologies. Its battery will charge fully in five minutes, providing a range of 300 miles, the company’s website claims. Myersdorf refuses to say which electric-car manufacturers he is working with. 


The firm is also working on a parallel research project called “MolecuLED”, a technology aimed at boosting the colour depth in LCD displays. Unlike toxic cadmium-based displays, those being developed by StoreDot are “organic and environmentally friendly”, the company says, and they use less energy than OLED screens. Myersdorf shows WIRED a demonstration in which a thin film is placed over an image of a strawberry, and the display is converted from blue LCD into vivid red and green colours. Myersdorf says a commercial release is planned for 2016.

The company is now at 50 staff — almost all on hardcore research. “Our most recent hires are in product engineering, manufacturing engineering, R&D… with just two on the business side,” Myersdorf says. “We’re writing about two patents a week.”

So what’s next? “We’re working on minimising the [battery] charger size,” he says. “We have a lot of innovation on how to make a charger smaller.”

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26 September 2015 | 11:12 am – Source:


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