By 2040, energy consumed by people is expected to have increased by 28 percent from 2015 levels. The majority of energy will still come from fossil fuels at great cost to the environment.
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have been workhorse of the consumer electronics market including portable electronics, implantable devices, power tools, and hybrid/full electric vehicles (EVs) due to their ability to store large amounts of energy per unit weight and per unit volume, low self-discharge rate, long cycle life. They are also relatively maintenance-free and contain fewer toxic chemicals than other batteries. However Li-ion batteries are reaching their energy density limit.
Unlike Lithium-ion batteries which work because of chemical reactions inside the cell. Quantum batteries work on Quantum Mechanics principles. Quantum technology (QT) applies quantum mechanical properties such as quantum entanglement, quantum superposition, and No-cloning theorem to quantum systems such as atoms, ions, electrons, photons, or molecules.
Quantum bit is the basic unit of quantum information. Whereas in a classical system, a bit is either in one state or the another. However, quantum qubits can exist in large number of states simultaneously, property called Superposition.
Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon where entangled particles can stay connected in the sense that the actions performed on one of the particles affects the other no matter what’s the distance between them. No-cloning theorem tells us that quantum information (qubit) cannot be copied.
Quantum batteries a offer potential for vastly better thermodynamic efficiency, and ultra-fast charging time. The Nano-Structured Solid State of matter in which electrons absorb photons and become stable. In this state, particles can hold the energy and remain in the device for an indefinite time. Then this energy can used to create a quantum battery.
However, Quantum batteries must be placed in the dark so they can hold the quantum charge. It must be placed in a closed state so it cannot change energy with the environment. Otherwise it can loose all its energy and there will be no longer “no loss” energy in these batteries.
Quantum battery could get a boost from entanglement, reported in 2018
They can also charge fast. Physicists in Italy have designed a “quantum battery” that they say could be built using today’s solidstate technology. They claim that the device, which would store energy in the excited states of qubits, could charge up very quickly thanks to entanglement and that it could provide power for quantum computers of the future.
This research is part of a push by physicists to study the thermodynamics of very small systems, such as atomic or molecular heat engines and refrigerators. In 2012, Robert Alicki of the University of Gdansk in Poland and Mark Fannes of Leuven University in Belgium investigated how much work could be extracted reversibly from a quantum-mechanical system used to store energy temporarily. They found that by entangling many quantum batteries together they could boost the energy output per battery such that for very large numbers of them the output approached the upper limit imposed by classical thermodynamics. According to Polini, the proposed quantum batteries could use qubits built either from superconductors or from semiconducting quantum dots.
He reckons that the collaboration could potentially build a battery with up to five qubits within the next three years. Polini, however, is keen to emphasize that the technology is not designed for powering laptops or other familiar electronic devices. As he notes, the quantum batteries would discharge extremely quickly – on the order of nanoseconds – and would also store exceptionally small amounts of energy. Indeed, he says, the energy stored in a quantum battery is linked to the difference in a qubit’s energy levels amounts to about 0.001 eV, whereas a typical laptop battery stores a few 10 eV. “These devices will not replace normal batteries,” he says.
Instead, Polini sees the batteries in future powering purely quantum-mechanical devices, such as quantum computers. An array of perhaps a few thousand qubits, he estimates, might be available in “10 or 20 years” from now. The array, he envisages, would operate in a loop, so that each qubit recharges while the computer taps the energy from successive qubits. “Our dream is that you have an integrated circuit based on quantum technologies,” he says. ”Every unit of the circuit would work quantum mechanically, including the battery.”
Modi says it’s “really surprising” that the IIT researchers have managed to find “physical architectures that accommodate our toy models”. But, he cautions, they must show that their technology can resist environmental noise. “Most likely we won’t see a quantum battery anytime soon, and it’s not clear how we might use such a battery,” he says. “There is a lot of theory that has to be done before we can do experiments, and some day engineering.”
Recent theoretical studies at Monash University bring us a step closer to realistic quantum batteries, reported in 2018
The key to any battery is the difference between its charged and uncharged state. However classical battery operate at only a tiny fraction of theoretical thermodynamic limits. Quantum batteries offer potential for vastly better thermodynamic efficiency, and ultra-fast charging time.
In a quantum battery, such a difference would hinge on quantum entanglement: the quantum link between particles with identical quantum waveforms. A pair of entangled quantum batteries perform much better than one alone, in fact in theory the performance of a large-enough number of entangled quantum batteries could approach 100 percent of the thermodynamic limit.
The study, which was co-led by FLEET’s Meera Parish and Jesper Levinsen expanded earlier research into individual, isolated quantum batteries to consider a more-realistic, many-body system with intrinsic interactions. The researchers showed that interacting quantum batteries charge faster than isolated batteries. Previous research into quantum batteries has assumed discrete, independent quantum systems that rely on global, many-body interactions in order to achieve a quantum advantage in charging power.
The recent Monash study instead considered more-realistic quantum batteries, with intrinsic many-body interactions. Quantum spin chains were found to be a promising platform for quantum batteries. Spin chains consist of a number of spins arranged on a one-dimensional line and have served as an important and fruitful model for more complicated systems since the early days of quantum physics.
The researchers found that such quantum batteries, linked via spin-spin interactions charge faster than their non-interacting counterparts. Interestingly, the researchers also discovered that this charging advantage was not due to (quantum nor classical) correlations, as has been the case in earlier work, but rather was due to the mean-field effect of interactions between the spins. Earlier, Physicists have shown that a “quantum speedup” in quantum battery arises from quantum entanglement among multiple qubits, which essentially provides a shortcut between the qubits’ uncharged and charged states, allowing for faster charging.
The scientists investigated a quantum battery that stores energy in its quantum states can take a variety of physical forms, such as ions, neutral atoms, photons, etc. Qubits can exist in either one of two states or a superposition of both states at once. In a quantum battery, the two states represent different energy levels. Charging a quantum battery means changing a qubit’s state from a lower energy level to a higher energy level, while using (discharging) the battery does the reverse. The scientists call these particular qubits “work qubits” (or simply “wits”) because they can store energy that can later be used to do work.
One of the properties of quantum systems, is that qubits may be entangled, meaning the qubits are so strongly correlated that an entire qubit array can be described by the same quantum state. Here, the researchers have shown that one consequence of entangling the qubits during the charging process is that it means a shorter distance has to be traveled through state space—that is, between the low and high energy states—than would be required without entanglement. The scientists showed that, the more qubits, and hence the more entanglement, the faster the charging process. One of the factor limiting the length of charging time is decoherence—interactions with the surrounding environment that destroy the quantum effects.
Besides decoherence, another roadblock to using quantum batteries for real-life applications is that the amount of energy that they can store is tiny compared to the energy needs of, for example, mobile phones or electric vehicles. “The energies of quantum systems tend to be many orders of magnitude smaller than even the smallest energies used by day-to-day appliances,” explained coauthor John Goold, a physicist at The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy. “‘Size’ is here a question of energy scales.
Our study is a theoretical proof-of-principle that quantum physics can provide a speedup in depositing energy into a system. These speedup effects would be relevant in two cases: 1) Mechanical devices become small enough that energy scales are comparable to current implementations of quantum systems. 2) Quantum systems are scaled up and robustly controllable at energy scales that are of practical importance.”
Crucial Superabsorption Breakthrough Unlocks Key to Next-Generation Quantum Batteries reported in Feb 2022
The idea of the quantum battery has the potential to significantly impact energy capture and storage in renewable energy and in miniature electronic devices. A battery that is capable of harvesting and storing light energy simultaneously would provide significant cost reduction while reducing the unpredictability of energy from solar technologies.
“Quantum batteries, which use quantum mechanical principles to enhance their capabilities, require less charging time the bigger they get,” said Dr. James Q. Quach, who is a Ramsay Fellow in the School of Physical Sciences and the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS), at the University of Adelaide. “It is theoretically possible that the charging power of quantum batteries increases faster than the size of the battery which could allow new ways to speed charging.”
To prove the concept of superabsorption, the team – who published their findings in the journal Science Advances – built several wafer-like microcavities of different sizes which contained different numbers of organic molecules. Each was charged using a laser.
“The active layer of the microcavity contains organic semiconductor materials that store the energy. Underlying the superabsorbing effect of the quantum batteries is the idea that all the molecules act collectively through a property known as quantum superposition,” said Dr. Quach.
The first quantum phase battery
Quantum technologies feature circuits based on superconducting materials through which a current can flow without voltage, therefore negating the need for “classic” chemical batteries. In quantum technologies, the current is induced from a phase difference of the wave function of the quantum circuit related to the wave nature of matter. A quantum device that can provide a persistent phase difference can be used as a quantum phase battery and induce supercurrents in a quantum circuit, powering it.
As quantum circuits become more complex, so, too, do the elements within them. In June 2020, physicists at the NEST-CNR Nanoscience Institute in Pisa and the University of Salerno, Italy demonstrated the first quantum phase battery: a device that provides a persistent phase bias to the wavefunction of a quantum circuit, similar to the way that a conventional battery provides a persistent voltage bias to an electrical circuit.
The device that Francesco Giazotto, Elia Strambini, Andrea Iorio and colleagues built out of InAs nanowires and superconducting Al leads was based on a theoretical concept developed only five years ago by physicists in Spain – a speedy turnaround that illustrates just how fast this field is progressing.
Bergeret and Tokatly’s idea, in short, involved a combination of superconducting and magnetic materials with an intrinsic relativistic effect known as spin-orbit coupling. On top of this idea, Giazotto and Strambini identified a suitable material combination that allowed them to fabricate their quantum phase battery.
Their quantum phase battery consists of an n-doped indium arsenide (InAs) nanowire, which forms the core of the cell, also known as “the pile,” and aluminum superconducting leads act as poles. The battery is charged by applying an external magnetic field, which can then be turned off. If quantum batteries are ever to be realized, they could bring significant benefits over their chemical cousins. Among other things, quantum batteries could offer vastly better thermodynamic efficiency and ultra-fast charging times, making them perfect for next-gen applications like electric vehicles.
Charging Electric Cars in 9 Seconds
Scientists in South Korea have proven that a new technology will cut the time it takes to charge electric cars to just nine seconds, allowing EV owners to ‘fill up’ faster than their gasoline counterparts. And even those plugging-in at home will have the time slashed from 10 hours to just three minutes.
The new device uses the laws of quantum physics to power all of a battery’s cells at once -instead of one at a time – so recharging takes no longer than filling up at the pump.
Co-author Dr Dominik Šafránek said, “Of course, quantum technologies are still in their infancy and there is a long way to go before these methods can be implemented in practice. Research findings such as these, however, create a promising direction and can incentivize the funding agencies and businesses to further invest in these technologies.”
“If employed, it is believed that quantum batteries would completely revolutionize the way we use energy and take us a step closer to our sustainable future.”
Nano vacuum tubes Battery Could Boost Energy Density Tenfold, reported in 2009
Physicists theorize that quantum phenomena could provide a major boost to batteries, with the potential to increase energy density up to 10 times that of lithium ion batteries. According to a new proposal, billions of nanoscale capacitors could take advantage of quantum effects to overcome electric arcing, an electrical breakdown phenomenon which limits the amount of charge that conventional capacitors can store.
In their study in 2009, Alfred Hubler and Onyeama Osuagwu, both of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have investigated energy storage capacity in arrays of nano vacuum tubes, which contain little or no gas. When the tubes’ gap size – or the distance between electrodes – is about 10 nanometers wide, electric arcing is suppressed, preventing energy loss. Further, each tube can be addressed individually, making the technology digital and offering the possibility for data storage in conjunction with energy storage.
The physicists calculated that the large electric field exhibited under these conditions could lead to an energy density anywhere between two and 10 times greater than that of today’s best battery technologies. The scientists also estimated that the power density (i.e., the charge-discharge rates) could be orders of magnitude greater than that of today’s batteries. In addition, the nature of the charging and discharging avoids the leakage faced by conventional batteries, so that the nano vacuum batteries waste very little energy and have a virtually unlimited lifetime.
Since the energy density is independent from the materials used, the nano vacuum tubes could be built from inexpensive, non-toxic materials. The nano vacuum tubes could also be fabricated using existing photolithographic techniques, and could be easily combined with integrated circuits.
As for the possibility of data storage, the physicists explain that each nano vacuum tube can have two gates, an energy gate and an information gate. Each nano vacuum tube can also be charged and discharged individually, in any arbitrary order. By inserting a MOSFET (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor) in the wall of a nano vacuum tube, the state of the tube can be determined without charging or discharging it.
“For example, to store the number 22, one would convert it to binary notation 22 = 10110,” the scientists wrote in their paper. “Then use the energy gates to charge the first, third and fourth tube and leave the second and fifth tube uncharged. When the energy gate holds a charge, it induces an electric field in the MOSFET that partially cancels the electric field from the electrodes of the information gate, which modifies the threshold voltage of the MOSFET. During read-out, a voltage slightly above the regular threshold voltages is applied to the information gate, and the MOSFET channel will become conducting or remain insulating, depending on the voltage threshold of the MOSFET, which depends on the charge on the energy gate. The current flow through the MOSFET channel is measured and provides a binary code, reproducing the stored data.”
IBM’s Plan to Design Solid-State Batteries Using Quantum Tech, reported in jan 2020
Lithium-ion batteries are still the gold standard technology in this field, and they’ve come a long way; 10 years ago they could just about get your iPod through the day, today they can power high-performance cars over hundreds of miles.
But if we want to reach a point where batteries can outperform gasoline or store huge amounts of solar energy, we need some breakthroughs. So IBM has teamed up with Mercedes-Benz and its parent company Daimler to develop new batteries that could match up to our needs. At the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week, they demonstrated a proof-of-concept showing how IBM’s quantum computers could help design cutting-edge solid-state batteries. At the end of last year they touted a new battery made from materials that can be extracted from the sea, which outperforms today’s technology across the board.
The latter breakthrough was met with some skepticism, because the company chose to announce it via a blog post rather than published research. But while crucial details regarding the exact composition of the battery have been left out, the claimed specs are impressive. IBM says its battery combines three new materials (which it hasn’t disclosed) that can be optimized for a host of different characteristics, including lower cost, faster charging time, higher power and energy density, energy efficiency, and low flammability.
When configured for high power it can charge to 80 percent in just 5 minutes, which would make charging an electric vehicle as simple as filling a gas tank. It can also match the energy density of state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries, but outperforms them when it comes to power density, which will be crucial for applications like electric planes that require big bursts of power. The chemistry can also be tweaked for long life cycle, which is crucial for grid storage.
IBM was keen to stress that unlike most existing batteries, this new design contains no heavy metals, like nickel or cobalt, that are extracted in environmentally damaging ways and often under questionable working conditions. The researchers say the materials could even be extracted from sea water, though that would likely require development of new technology. The researchers told IEEE Spectrum that they have teamed up with with Mercedes Benz R&D North America, Japanese chemical company Central Glass, and battery startup Sidus to start commercially developing the battery, which could come to fruition in one to two years.
And that’s not the only collaboration IBM has going with the German car maker. Scientists at IBM and Daimler have joined forces to uses the computing giant’s quantum computers to probe the properties of three molecules that could form in the operation of lithium-sulfur batteries. This battery chemistry promises to be more powerful, longer-lasting, and cheaper than lithium ion technology and could also make it possible to create solid-state batteries that are, in theory, lighter and more compact. But it’s still experimental at this stage, and there are plenty of mysteries about how all the components interact.
Simulating the three molecules will help us better understand how their behavior will affect important properties like energy storage and discharge, but it can take huge amounts of computing power. Quantum computers hold the promise of doing these kinds of simulations much more efficiently.
However, this piece of research was more of a proof-of-concept than a breakthrough in battery design, the researchers say in a blog post, as the simulations were run on both quantum and classical computers and compared. The quantum simulations came out favorably, which suggests that as IBM’s quantum processors become more powerful they will be able to make fundamental progress in battery design. How soon that will be remains uncertain, but if we’re banking on battery breakthroughs to solve the climate crisis, it’s good news that Big Blue is on board.
Project Quantum to make Britain a global leader in EV battery manufacturing, Oct 2020
AMTE Power expects that in the next five years, the battery market would be worth $5 billion. There would be an increased demand for the lithium ion batteries as the UK would move towards electrification. AMTE Power stated that one in every five cars sold by 2026 would be an electric car. This number would increase rapidly to comprise around 50 per cent of the UK car fleet to be electric by 2030.
In order to make Britain a key player in the gradually expanding electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturing space, a £5.4 million Project Quantum has been launched. The three-year project with an intention to commercialise quantum technology for batteries is kickstarted by AMTE Power, a British battery manufacturer, and has brought together nine different partners from the industry and academia under its fold.
The quantum technology, which has been specially designed for batteries for the EVs, would overcome the inefficiencies in lithium cell manufacturing. This would potentially enhance quality yields as well as speed up manufacturing. AMTE Power officials said like other manufacturers, it would face the challenge of cell formation and ageing processes that potentially takes up to three weeks’ time, accounting for around 30 per cent of the cost. The firm’s manufacturing required a non-invasive monitoring of the cell ageing process.
The latest development within the quantum sensing technology would not only reduce the cost of production but also provide extra capabilities for grading battery quality. This means that the additional cells can be quickly manufactured and will be profitable. AMTE Power would assimilate this process into its pouch cell assembly with processes trailed on its various cells. At present, these cells are commercialised for the automobile market. The company believed that the quality power cells would give it a competitive edge in capturing a larger market share, besides being beneficial to the entire industry.
In this project, AMTE Power would associate with Centre for Process Innovation, University of Strathclyde, University of Sussex, Compound Semiconductor Technologies, Magnetic Shields, Alter Technology Ltd, CDO2, Compound Semiconductor Centre Ltd, and Kelvin Nanotechnology Ltd.