UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY SCIENCE) — A battery that is completely discharged during storage? Quantum physics makes this possible, according to researchers from the universities of Toronto and Alberta (Canada). In the Journal of Physical Chemistry C, they described the idea of a battery that can store energy forever.
“Batteries, with which we are more familiar – for example, a lithium-ion battery which powers your smartphone – based on the classic electrochemical principles, whereas quantum batteries are based exclusively on quantum mechanics, – said the leader of the research team Gabriel Hanna. “A quantum battery is a tiny, nanoscale battery designed for use in nanoscale applications.”
The authors suggest the use of so-called dark states. In this state, the quantum system can neither absorb nor emit photons. Without emitting radiation, it stores the energy stored in it. Theoretically, this state of affairs can persist forever.
Moreover, the dark states of atoms have long been known to physicists. They are used, for example, in various radiation detectors. Having absorbed a quantum of radiation, the atom of a sensitive substance goes into a dark state and saves the received energy. So the detector remembers what dose it absorbed during the measurement. Then the atoms are artificially removed from this state, causing them to “discharge”, and measure the stored energy.
In fact, such a system is already a tiny battery. But the energy stored by an individual atom or object of a comparable scale is insignificant. Therefore, the creation of dark states is usually not considered as a promising energy technology. Instead, scientists are actively discussing the possible application of this effect to create qubits (quantum bits) for quantum computers . Indeed, a system that stably maintains its original state can be used as a memory element in a computer.
However, Hannah and his colleagues are confident that this phenomenon can also be used to store energy. As a battery, they suggest using a network of qubits, which has a special geometric structure.
“The trick is to bring this quantum network into a so-called dark state,” says the scientist. “Being in a dark state, the network cannot exchange energy with the environment. In essence, the system becomes immune to all environmental influences. This means that the battery will be very resistant to energy loss.”
Electrons contained in qubits, will absorb energy and move to new energy levels, resulting in a quasi-particle are produced excitons . In this case, the entire network will be immersed in a collective dark state. The total energy stored in the network can be large enough to power at least a miniature device.
Computer simulations have confirmed the viability of this concept. The authors also calculated how to remove such a battery from a dark state and make it give energy to the device.
Note that the work of Canadian physicists is a preliminary theoretical justification of the idea. In practice, it is extremely difficult to manipulate the collective quantum states of a network of qubits, so it is difficult to say when the declared principle will be implemented even in the laboratory.
This science article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS SCIENCE from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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