Transcending reason: The Revolutionary Power of Quantum Batteries

Quantum batteries, with their new charging methods, represent a leap in battery technology, promising higher efficiency and wider applications of sustainable energy solutions. Source:

A new method of charging batteries uses power in “indefinite order.”

Batteries that exploit quantum phenomena to capture, distribute, and store power promise to surpass the capabilities and usefulness of conventional chemical batteries in some low-power applications. For the first time, researchers including those from the University of Tokyo have exploited an unintuitive quantum process that ignores the usual notion of causality to improve the performance of so-called quantum batteries, bringing this future technology even further. close to the truth.

Quantum Batteries in Sustainable Energy

When you hear the word “quantum,” the physics that governs the subatomic world, advances in quantum computers tend to steal the headlines, but there are other upcoming quantum technologies worth paying attention to. . One such thing is the quantum battery which, although initially confusing in name, has unexplored potential for sustainable energy solutions and possible integration into future electric vehicles. However, these new devices are ready to be used in a variety of portable and low-power applications, especially when recharging opportunities are scarce.

Charging Quantum Batteries in Uncertain Causal Order

In the classical world, when you try to charge a battery with two chargers, you have to do it one after the other, limiting the available options to only two possible orders. However, the use of a novel quantum effect called ICO opens up the possibility of charging quantum batteries in a different unconventional way. Here, many chargers arranged in different orders can exist simultaneously, forming a quantum superposition. Credit: ©2023 Chen et al.

Advances in Quantum Battery Research

At the moment, quantum batteries exist only as laboratory experiments, and researchers around the world are working on different aspects that hopefully one day will merge into a fully functioning and practical application. Graduate student Yuanbo Chen and Associate Professor Yoshihiko Hasegawa from the Department of Information and Communication Engineering at the University of Tokyo are investigating the best way to charge a quantum battery, and this is where time come to play. One of the advantages of quantum batteries is that they should be more efficient, but that depends on the way they are charged.

“Current batteries for low-power devices, such as smartphones or sensors, typically use chemicals such as lithium to store charge, while a quantum battery uses microscopic particles such as arrays of atoms,” said Chen. “While chemical batteries are governed by the classical laws of physics, microscopic particles are quantum in nature, so we have the opportunity to explore ways of using them that bend or even destroy our intuitive ideas. of what happens on small scales. I am particularly interested in the way that quantum particles can violate one of our most fundamental experiences, that of time.

Demonstration of Charging Quantum Batteries

While it’s larger than the AA battery you might find around the house, the experimental device that functions as a quantum battery shows charging characteristics that may one day be improved. of your smartphone’s battery. Credit: ©2023 Zhu et al.

Quantum Charging Methods

In collaboration with researcher Gaoyan Zhu and Professor Peng Xue from the Beijing Computational Science Research Center, the team experimented with ways to charge quantum batteries using optical apparatuses such as lasers, lenses, and mirrors, but the way to achieve this requires a quantum effect where The events are not causally connected in the way of everyday things. The first methods of charging a quantum battery involved a series of charging stages in sequence. However, here, the team uses a novel quantum effect they call indeterminate causal order, or ICO. In the classical realm, causality follows a clear path, meaning that if event A leads to event B, then the possibility of B causing A is excluded. However, at the quantum scale, ICO allows both directions of causality to exist in what is called quantum superposition, where both can be simultaneously true.

Reverse Interaction Effects

Common intuition suggests that a more powerful charger will result in a battery with a stronger charge. However, the discovery arising from the ICO indicates a remarkable change in this relationship; now, it becomes possible to charge a more efficient battery with significantly lower power. Credit: ©2023 Chen et al.

Implications for Quantum Battery Research

“With ICO, we have shown that the way you charge a battery made up of quantum particles can affect its performance,” Chen said. “We saw huge gains in both the energy stored in the system and the thermal efficiency. And somewhat counterintuitively, we discovered the surprising effect of an interaction that is the opposite of what you might expect: A low power charger can provide higher power with better efficiency than a similar high power charger using the same device.

The ICO phenomenon explored by the team may find uses beyond charging a new generation of low-power devices. The underlying principles, including the inverse interaction effect discovered here, can improve the performance of other tasks involving thermodynamics or processes involving heat transfer. A good example is solar panels, where the effects of heat can reduce their efficiency, but ICO can be used to reduce those and lead to efficiency gains.

Reference: “Quantum Battery Charging by Impaired Causal Order: Theory and Experiment” by Gaoyan Zhu, Yuanbo Chen, Yoshihiko Hasegawa and Peng Xue, 13 December 2023, Physical Review Letters.
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.131.240401

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 92265209 and 12025401). YH acknowledges support through JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP22H03659. YC acknowledges the support of JST SPRING, Grant Number JPMJSP2108.

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