In a new study published in Physical Review Letters, researchers from the Korea Institute of Basic Sciences (IBS) suggest that quantum charging of electric vehicle batteries will reduce charging time from ten hours to three minutes at home.
Despite significant and ongoing improvements in battery technology, electric vehicle consumers continue to struggle with slow battery charging speeds.
Currently, cars can take around 10 hours to fully charge at home. Even DC fast chargers take up to 20-40 minutes to fully charge vehicles. This creates additional costs and inconvenience for customers.
To circumvent this problem, some scientists have turned to quantum physics.
Their research led them to discover that quantum technologies could hold promise for new mechanisms to charge batteries faster.
The concept of a “quantum battery” was first proposed in a seminal paper published by Alicki and Fannes in 2012. It has been theorized that quantum resources, such as entanglement, can be used to speed up the charging process of the battery by charging all the cells inside. the battery simultaneously collectively.
This is particularly interesting, because modern high capacity batteries can contain many cells. This collective charging is not possible in conventional batteries, in which the cells are charged in parallel independently. The advantage of this collective charge over the parallel charge can be measured by the relationship called the “quantum charge advantage”.
Around 2017, it was noted that there could be two possible sources behind this quantum advantage: “global functioning” (in which all cells talk to all other cells simultaneously, i.e. “all world seated at a table”) and the “all-to-all”. coupling” (each cell can talk to all the others, but only one cell, i.e. “multiple discussions, but each discussion has only two participants”).
However, it is unclear whether these two sources are necessary and whether there are limits to the download speed that can be achieved.
Recently, scientists from the Center for Theoretical Physics of Complex Systems at the Institute for Basic Sciences (IBS) have been looking into these questions.
The work showed that full coupling is irrelevant in quantum batteries and that the presence of global operations is the only ingredient of quantum advantage.
The group went further by identifying the exact origin of this advantage, while ruling out any other possibility, and even provided an explicit way of designing such batteries.
Additionally, the group was able to quantify the loading speed that can be achieved with this scheme.
While the maximum charge rate increases linearly with the number of cells in conventional batteries, the study showed that quantum batteries using global operation can achieve quadratic scaling of the charge rate.
To illustrate this, consider a typical electric vehicle with a battery containing approximately 200 cells. By using this quantum charge, one would obtain a speed 200 times faster than that of conventional batteries, which means that at home the charging time would be reduced from 10 hours to approximately 3 minutes. In high-speed charging stations, the charging time would drop from 30 minutes to just a few seconds.
The researchers say the consequences can be far-reaching, and the implications of quantum charging can go far beyond electric cars and consumer electronics. For example, it could find key uses in future fusion power plants, which require vast amounts of energy to charge and discharge in an instant.
Of course, quantum technologies are still in their infancy and there is still a long way to go before these methods can be applied in practice. However, research findings like this point to a promising avenue and can encourage funding agencies and companies to continue investing in these technologies. If used, quantum batteries are expected to completely revolutionize the way we use energy and bring us closer to a sustainable future.