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Quantum batteries could reduce the charging time to literally nothing

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Posted July 21, 2018

Batteries are great, except that they take a long time to charge. When you are dealing with a lot of batteries, you have to have a lot of time to charge them. But what if you could reduce the charging time by adding more batteries? Sounds unreal? Probably, but that is what scientists at the University of Adelaide are going to try to achieve by creating world’s first quantum battery.

Charging quantum batteries would be different – the more batteries you add, the quicker they would charge. Image credit: Santeri Viinamäki via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Quantum batteries would work by taking advantage of quantum mechanics. At first they could be small, replacing batteries in some electronic devices. But then you could make bigger quantum batteries, benefiting the sector of renewable energy. The biggest advantage would be the potential of instantaneous charging. The bigger the number of quantum batteries, the less time they need to charge. For example, if one would take an hour, two would take 30 minutes. Increase the number of batteries to 10,000 and they would pretty much charge instantaneously.

This really sounds like something from science fiction books, but scientists say that it is possible thanks to a feature of quantum mechanics known as entanglement. The laws of physics that you know and respect, work in our world and in our scale. Quantum mechanics deals with the very smallest of scales, at the levels of atoms and molecules, where normal laws of physics do not apply. That is why we have quantum physics to explain such small scales. But what is entanglement? Dr James Quach, scientist behind the project and  Ramsay Fellow, explained: “When two objects are entangled it means that their individual properties are always shared – they somehow lose their sense of individuality. It’s because of entanglement that it becomes possible to speed up the battery charging process”.

However, entanglement is difficult to achieve and maintain. It requires low temperatures and very specific conditions. Even small changes can cause entanglement to disappear. Quantum batteries have been discussed in papers before, but now it is time to take the idea to the lab. It will require a lot of work and special equipment, but scientists hope that they will manage to reach the entanglement and employ it in quantum batteries. The smallest ones could be used in smart watches, phones, tablets, later big ones could be used in various renewable energy solutions.

It will take years for any kind of results to emerge, but we are hopeful that quantum batteries can become a reality. Mind-bending technology could reduce charging times to nothing and that is the future we’ve been waiting for.

 

Source: University of Adelaide

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