RESEARCHERS CLAIM to have found a form of battery power that would allow electric cars to travel as far as petrol cars without long periods waiting for recharge, while also allowing mobile devices to recharge in seconds.
The new science is said to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times more powerful than existing battery alternatives and has been developed with the University of Surrey, the University of Bristol and Supercapacitor Materials, a new offshoot of lens company Augmented Optics Ltd.
At present, an electric car could travel from London to Brighton before needing a recharge of six-to-eight hours. The new dense supercapacitors developed by the consortium, on the other hand, could get a passenger from London to Edinburgh before a charge, which would take no longer than filling a petrol tank.
Weirdly, the technology is based on the process for making soft contact lenses developed by Dr Donald Highgate, UoS alumni and now of Augmented Optics.
Up until now, supercapacitors have shown promise as an alternative to conventional batteries but have only been able to carry around one-twentieth of the energy density per kilo. This new discovery, based on differing forms of polymer set on large organic molecules composed of many repeated sub-units, bonded together in a 3D formation, fixes that issue.
Jim Heathcote, Chief Executive of both Augmented Optics Ltd and Supercapacitor Materials Ltd, said: "It is a privilege to work with the teams from the University of Surrey and the University of Bristol.
"The test results from the new polymers suggest that extremely high energy density supercapacitors could be constructed in the very new future.
"We are now actively seeking commercial partners in order to supply our polymers and offer assistance to build these ultra high energy density storage devices."
Although batteries represent the "killer application", the polymers could also find a use in bioelectronics, sensors, wearables and of course, advanced optics.
Superconductors are also at the heart of Quantum computing, and there may well be some opportunities there too. Maybe the future isn’t as screwed as we thought.