Quantum battery breakthrough could accelerate advance of electric vehicles

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Researchers have made significant progress towards making quantum batteries a reality after demonstrating a new proof-of-concept device, showing it is possible to manufacture a type of battery where the charging power increases faster by increasing the battery capacity.

Quantum batteries are a new class of energy storage devices that operate according to the principles of quantum physics, the science that studies the infinitely small where the laws of classical physics do not always apply.

The work, carried out internationally, was published in Science Advances.

“Quantum batteries have a counter-intuitive property in which the recharge time is inversely related to the battery capacity, that is the amount of stored electrical charge,” says Tersilla Virgili of the Institute of Photonics and Nanotechnologies in Milan. “This leads to the intriguing idea that the charging power of quantum batteries is super-extensive, meaning that it increases faster with battery size.” The fabricated device is a microcavity in which the active material consists of organic molecules dispersed in an inert matrix.

“Each molecule represents a unit that can exist in a quantum superposition state of two energy levels (fundamental and excited), similar to the way a qubit, the basic unit of quantum information, can be both 0 and 1 simultaneously in quantum computers,” she continues.

By constructing the quantum battery in a way that units can exist in superposition, the total system can behave collectively. This behaviour, known as quantum coherence, allows the units to act cooperatively, giving rise to a hyper-fast charge that depends on the number of molecule-units.

“In the future this type of device can be applied in various scientific and technological fields such as wireless chargers, solar cells and cameras”, concludes Virgili.

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Saul Wordsworth is deputy editor of the iVT brand - which includes digital and print editions of a quarterly magazine and Off-Highway Annual, as well as ivtinternational.com. He is a keen cyclist and lives in north London.

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