Scientists revealed a revolutionary new gadget which could make batteries redundant forever.
British boffins said the futuristic system will allow people to fully charge mobile phones and laptops in seconds and could make petrol powered cars redundant within decades.
Experts predicted it will have a “seismic impact” on people’s everyday lives and said it represents the biggest leap in electrical storage since the battery was invented in 1800.
Dr Ian Hamerton, who led the team of brainboxes behind the project, declared: “We believe that this is an extremely exciting and potentially game-changing development.”
The scientists, from two leading British universities, say they have developed cutting edge high density supercapacitors which will replace the need for batteries in hundreds of everyday appliances.
The technology could rapidly revolutionise mobile phones, tablets and laptops – which are currently constrained both in terms of power and size by the need for batteries.
And it could also provide a massive breakthrough for electric cars, current models of which have failed to capture the public imagination largely because of limited ranges and long recharging times of around eight hours.
Scientists say that, using the new supercapacitors, electrically powered vehicles could travel just as far as a conventional petrol car, and be recharged in the same time it takes to fill up at the pump.
The technology could be used for public transport too. China currently has buses running on rudimentary supercapacitors but, but they are inefficient and need to recharge every two or three stops.
However, following this breakthrough experts say that would be extended to every 20-30 stops, with recharging times also drastically slashed to just a few minutes.
Supercapacitors, which store energy using electrodes and electrolytes rather than chemicals like batteries, have long been hailed as an alternative power source due to their ability to charge and discharge electricity rapidly over very large numbers of cycles.
However, the technology has been held back because of their poor energy density per kilogramme – currently just one twentieth of existing battery technology – meaning they have been unable to perform basic tasks.
But the new supercapacitors, which have been developed using the same technology applied when making soft contact lenses, are proven to be between 1,000-10,000 times more powerful than existing batteries.
Dr Brendan Howlin from the University of Surrey, which led the research, said: “There is a global search for new energy storage technology and this new ultra capacity supercapacitor has the potential to open the door to unimaginably exciting developments.”
Meanwhile Dr Hamerton, from Bristol University’s Department of Aerospace Engineering, said the new technology had untold possibilities in the field of wearable electronics, like Apple Watch, and advanced optics, such as Google Glass.
Academics from Surrey and Bristol joined together with the private company Augmented Optics Ltd, with the research being initiated with its director Dr Donald Highgate.
Jim Heathcote, the firm’s chief executive, said the test results were so encouraging that production on the new supercapacitors could start in the “very near future”.
He added: “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.”
Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of the Tesla electric sports car firm and SpaceX, has previously said that that supercapacitors could even be used to make electric-powered airliners in the future.