The future could be defined by the rise of nanobots, hyperconductors, quantum networks and... eggplant?

An 18-year-old Singaporean student has won a Young Scientists’ Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for an eggplant-based device that can recharge batteries.

Researcher Shannon Lee says she does not like eggplant, and this study might just be the most complicated way imaginable to avoid it.

Essentially, she has found a way for eggplant to replace expensive catalysts in advanced metal-air batteries.

Current models for such batteries use oxygen as a key component but rely on platinum, a rare and expensive metal, to act as a catalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction.

This is central reaction for creating electricity.

Lee has designed a system using Chinese eggplant for the air cathode of a zinc-air battery.

Her studies led her to carbonise eggplant, activate and test its performance in catalysing the oxygen reduction reaction

Stunningly, it appears that carbonised eggplant can far exceed the performance of platinum carbon in terms of stability.

Ms Lee explains her research further in the following video.