Quantum batteries

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As mobile devices get more powerful, they also burn throughbatteries at an ever increasing rate. Capacities have been inching upward over the years, but one of the biggest improvements has been fast-charging technologies like Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 and Oppo’s VOOC. However, physicists have discovered a way that future batteries could charge at warp speed by leveraging quantum entanglement.

You’re probably familiar with quantum bits (qubits) to some degree from all the news aboutquantum computing in recent years. Unlike regular digital bits, a qubit can be in either of two states or both states at the same time. Physically, the qubits can be any number of particles including photons, ions, and neutral atoms. In the case of a quantum battery, the qubits are referred to as work qubits (amusingly nicknamed “wits”) because they are used to store energy that can later be extracted to perform work. Each wit has a high-energy state and a low-energy state. Add power to the system, and you flip wits to the high-energy state to store energy.

The trick to getting super-fast charging times out of a quantum battery is that all of these wits can (theoretically) be entangled during the charging process. Conventional battery charging is limited by thermodynamic processes as the electrons flow in, but two entangled wits can bypass most of this. If two particles are entangled, they will share the same quantum state even if they aren’t in the same physical space. In this case, that state is storing energy. The researchers say this means the wits can be charged “globally” for a huge increase in speed. In fact, the charging speed is proportional to the number of wits in a battery. If a quantum battery with one work qubit takes an hour to charge, one with six wits would only take 10 minutes.

 

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