By Melissa Keogh
A University of Adelaide scientist is powering ahead with a plan to build the world’s first quantum battery, which could be charged in less than a second and provide opportunities for the renewable energy sector.
The university’s newest Ramsey fellow and expert in quantum physics, Dr James Quach, will be working within the Precision Management Group in the university’s Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing.
Once built, the quantum battery could replace conventional batteries used in small electronic devices such as watches, phones, iPads, computers or other products that rely on stored energy.
Once developed, the university says it hopes larger quantum batteries could lead the way for opportunities in renewable energy.
Dr Quach says the invention is based on the theory that the more quantum batteries you have, the faster they charge, unlike ordinary batteries which take some time to charge irregardless of the number.
“If one quantum battery takes one hour to charge, two would take 30 minutes, three would take 20 minutes, and so on,” he says.
“If you had 10 thousand batteries, they would all charge in less than a second.”
The fastest charging battery would be possible due to a feature of quantum mechanics known as entanglement.
“Quantum mechanics deals with interactions at the very smallest of scales, at the levels of atoms and molecules – at this level you get very special properties that violate the conventional laws of physics,” Dr Quach says.
“One of those properties is entanglement. 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 engagement that it becomes possible to speed up the battery charging process.”
Dr Quach says he intends to “take the theory from the blackboard to the lab” with the idea of a quantum battery first discussed in a research paper in 2013.
“Entanglement is incredibly delicate, it requires very specific conditions – low temperatures and an isolated system – and when those conditions change the entanglement disappears,” he says.
“… 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.”
Dr Quach says the the quantum battery could support renewable energy technologies by allowing for a continuous energy supply no matter the weather conditions.
He is undertaking the four-year Ramsey Fellowship at the University of Adelaide’s School of Physical Science.
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