Quantum batteries could enable instantaneous charging

Wednesday, 01 August, 2018

Quantum batteries could enable instantaneous charging

The University of Adelaide’s newest Ramsay Fellow, Dr James Quach, will harness the properties of quantum mechanics with the aim of building the world’s first quantum battery — a battery with the potential for instantaneous charging.

Dr Quach, who is an expert in quantum physics, has joined the University of Adelaide’s School of Physical Sciences for four years under a Ramsay Fellowship, originally established in 2008 to reduce the brain drain from our shores and advance scientific research. He will be working within the Precision Measurement Group at the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS).

Dr Quach says that unlike ordinary batteries, which take the same amount of time to charge no matter how many you have, the theory is that quantum batteries would charge faster the more you have of them.

“If one quantum battery takes one hour to charge, then two would take 30 minutes, three would take 20 minutes, and so on. If you had 10,000 batteries, they would all charge in less than a second,” he said.

This is possible thanks to a feature of quantum mechanics known as entanglement — a feature that violates the conventional laws of physics.

“When two objects are entangled it means that their individual properties are always shared — they somehow lose their sense of individuality,” Dr Quach explained.

“It’s because of entanglement that it becomes possible to speed up the battery charging process.”

The idea for a quantum battery was first discussed in a 2013 research paper, but Dr Quach says he will “take the theory from the blackboard to the lab”.

“Entanglement is incredibly delicate, it requires very specific conditions — low temperatures and an isolated system — and when those conditions change the entanglement disappears,” he said.

“With the support of the academic community in Adelaide, interstate and globally, I aim to extend the theory of the quantum battery, construct a lab conducive to the conditions needed for entanglement and then build the first quantum battery.”

Once built, the quantum battery could replace conventional batteries used in small electronic devices such as a watch, phone, iPad or computer, or any other product that relies on stored energy. Eventually it is hoped larger quantum batteries could provide opportunities for the renewable energy sector.

“The long-term aim is to scale up, to build bigger batteries which will support renewable energy technologies by making it possible for continuous energy supply no matter the weather conditions — rain, hail or shine,” Dr Quach said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/sdecoret

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