The power source of The Doctors’s TARDIS is known, but is there any canon evidence for what powers his/her sonic screwdriver?

They’ve shown The Doctor charge the TARDIS on multiple occasions, but I don’t recall them ever showing the sonic screwdriver being charged or anything. Maybe it's because The Doctor goes through them too quickly?

  • 6
    It contains the power of: moving the plot along.
    – ShadoCat
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 17:41
  • 3
    It runs on Applied Phlebotinum (TV Tropes)
    – Machavity
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 18:01
  • 2
    I looked in the Doctor Who Technical Manual, and it doesn't say anything about the power source.
    – Buzz
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 21:59
  • 1
    Sonic Screwdriver is bigger on inside and there are infinite amount of collapsing stars in time loop.. :)
    – user931
    Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 15:26
  • 2
    @NewtScamander Actually, if it was just a hair bigger on the inside than the outside, you could fit a sonic screwdriver inside it, and that could provide you the power. I wouldn't put it past some of the writers =D
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 19:45

3 Answers 3


There's a charger slot for the sonic in the TARDIS console.

At least in the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors' TARDISes.

  • In the 2013 Christmas special "Time of the Doctor" (emphasis mine):

    DOCTOR: A question only I could answer. A truth field to make sure I'm not lying. If I give my name, they'll know they've found the right place and that it's safe to come through.
    CLARA: The Time Lords? Okay, so what then? If you answer the question and they come back, what happens?
    (The Doctor gives Clara a short round device.)
    DOCTOR: Er, you need to take this to the Tardis and put it in the charger slot for the sonic.
    CLARA: Why?
    DOCTOR: Hell. All hell, that's what happens if the Time Lords come back. There's half a universe up there already, waiting to open fire. Now please, go to the Tardis and just do as I say.
    (Clara runs.)

  • And in the Series 9 finale "Hell Bent", we see the sonic materialise in its charger slot before flying into the Doctor's hand:

  • 1
    Basically, it uses the energy of a collapsing star. Sweet!
    – phyrfox
    Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 5:35
  • @phyrfox So, not the Eye of Harmony then?
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 10:50
  • 1
    @wizzwizz4 that's what the Eye of Harmony is...
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 17:11

It's powered by "batteries" (also referred to as "power cells"). Occasionally these run down and need to be recharged.

enter image description here
Doctor Who Adventures #9 - Bizarre Zero


‘Is it just me,’ said Flowers, ‘or is the light getting fainter?’ She shook the sonic screwdriver, clamped tight in her clammy hand.
The Doctor rolled back on to his stomach. ‘Battery’s running down.

The Monsters Inside


enter image description here "The Doctor keeps the tool on him for as long as power cells allow between recharges" - "Charging cells [depicted]"
Doctor Who: The Visual Dictionary

  • I suggest making it more clear from the beginning (i.e. not just in some links in subscript text) which part of Doctor Who 'canon' your info comes from. Many DW questions have several mutually contradictory answers from different parts of the canon, and if this is one of them, it's interesting to see which parts of the canon are in conflict here, so that people who see different levels of canonicity can decide which one to believe.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 14:59
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    @Randal'Thor - There's is no Doctor Who canon and readers are welcome to make their own judgements by following the various links.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 15:08
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    Precisely my point. It's useful for the answers to clearly say "in these TV episodes with these Doctors, the answer is X" and "in these books/comics/whatever, the answer is Y". Then people can decide which one to rate higher based on their own headcanonicity levels.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 15:12

According to the 2018 Doctor Who series, Stenza technology and British Steel the Doctor makes herself in the first episode.

  • This doesn't really answer the question of the power source
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 21:31

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