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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

As our ability to create machines and products at the nanoscale improves, we need new ways to power them and this is one of them.

 

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There’s been a huge flurry of innovation and investment in new battery technologies, from bio-batteries, graphene batteries, and nuclear batteries, to 3D printed Lithium Ion (LiOn) batteries and even polymer batteries and weird batteries that create themselves by cannibalising their own material to make new structures, to name a few. And now scientists from the University of Alberta and University of Toronto have developed a blueprint for a new type of quantum battery that doesn’t leak charge.

 

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“A quantum battery is a tiny, nano-size battery meant to be used for applications on the nanoscale, such as nanobots [that can already use enzyme batteries]” explained U of A chemist Gabriel Hanna, who was principal investigator on the study.

He went on to say that the research provides a theoretical demonstration that creating a loss-free quantum battery is possible – something that would offer an advantage over previously proposed quantum batteries.

“The batteries that we are more familiar with, like the LiOn batteries that power your smartphones, rely on classical electrochemical principles, whereas quantum batteries rely solely on quantum mechanics,” Hanna noted.

 

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He said the batteries may become an important component in many quantum devices, from quantum sensors that are millions of times more sensitive than today’s sensor technologies and that are already being used, through to ultra-powerful quantum computers, and added that, in practice, they could be built using current solid-state technologies.

To realise their idea the research team considered an open quantum network model with high structural symmetry as a platform for storing excitonic energy – energy that’s harnessed when an electron absorbs a sufficiently energetic photon of light. Using this model, they showed it is possible to store energy without any loss, despite being open to an environment.

“The key is to prepare this quantum network in what is called a dark state,” explained Hanna. “While in a dark state, the network cannot exchange energy with its environment. In essence, the system becomes immune to all environmental influences. This means that the battery is highly robust to energy losses.”

 

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Using this model, the researchers also suggested a general method of discharging the stored energy from the battery upon demand that involves breaking the structural symmetry of the network in a controlled way.

Future research will explore viable ways of charging and discharging the battery, as well as ways of scaling it up for use in practical applications.

The study, “Loss-Free Excitonic Quantum Battery,” was published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, CNBC, Discovery, RT, and Viacom, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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