Tired of constantly dying batteries, she came up with a device that could revolutionize energy storage -- and won $50,000 from Intel.
By Bruce Kennedy
If you care at all about America's future as a country of ideas and potential, you'll probably agree that this is a cool story.
An 18-year-old high school student has come up with what might be a breakthrough in the field of energy storage. She has invented a device that can, for example, recharge a cellphone in seconds rather than hours.
Eesha Khare, a student at Lynbrook High School in Saratoga, Calif., was one of two runners-up at the annual Intel (INTC -0.87%) International Science and Engineering Fair last week in Phoenix. She beat out more than 1,600 finalists from more than 70 countries.
Khare received one of two Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards of $50,000. As the company's press release states, "Eesha recognized the crucial need for energy-efficient storage devices. She developed a tiny device that fits inside cell phone batteries, allowing them to fully charge within 20-30 seconds."
When asked by NBC News why she focused on energy storage, the high school senior had a very practical response: "My cellphone battery always dies."
Besides charging very quickly, Khare's supercapacitor can also endure 10,000 recharging cycles, compared with current conventional batteries, which last about 1,000 cycles. She says her work in supercapacitors also allowed her to focus on her interest in nanotechnologies and nanochemistry.
In other words, this young woman has come up with a tiny, solid-state and highly efficient battery that can bend, fold and potentially be used in a variety of applications, from clothing and fabric to car batteries.
Let's not forget the other runner-up at the Intel Young Scientist Award, 17-year-old Henry Lin of Shreveport, La., who also received $50,000 for his simulations of galaxy clusters.
The event's first-prize winner of $75,000 was a 19-year-old student from Romania, Ionut Budisteanu, who created a low-cost, automatically controlled car that uses artificial intelligence to detect traffic lanes, curbs and the vehicle's real-time position.
Khare will use her prize money to attend Harvard, where she plans to pursue a career in research. And she is already being wooed by Google (GOOG -1.04%). Not bad for someone who just attended her high school prom.