A new technology to speed up the charging of electric cars

Whether it is solar cells or fusion, human civilization will sooner or later have to turn to renewable energy. This is considered inevitable given humanity’s ever-increasing energy needs and the limited nature of fossil fuels. Thus, much research has been done to develop alternative energy sources, most of which use electricity as the main energy carrier. The significant R&D in the field of renewable energy has been accompanied by step-by-step societal changes as the world adopts new products and appliances powered by renewable energy. The most striking change in recent times is the rapid introduction of electric vehicles. While they were barely seen on the roads 10 years ago, today millions of electric cars are sold every year. The electric car market is one of the fastest growing sectors, and it helped make Elon Musk the richest man in the world.

Unlike traditional cars, which get their energy from burning hydrocarbons, electric vehicles use batteries as a means of storing their energy. For a long time, batteries had a much lower energy density than those offered by hydrocarbons, resulting in very short range of the first electric vehicles. However, the gradual improvement of battery technologies has finally brought the range of electric cars to acceptable levels compared to petrol-powered cars. It is no understatement that the improvement of battery storage technology was one of the major technical bottlenecks that needed to be addressed to start the current revolution of electric vehicles.

But despite major improvements in battery technology, consumers of electric vehicles today face another challenge: slow battery charging speeds. Currently, cars take about 10 hours to fully charge at home. Even the fastest superchargers at charging stations require up to 20-40 minutes to fully charge vehicles. This creates additional costs and inconveniences for the customers.

To solve this problem, scientists searched for answers in the mysterious field of quantum physics. Their research led to the discovery that quantum technologies could promise new mechanisms for charging batteries at a faster speed. Such a “quantum battery” concept was first proposed in a groundbreaking paper published by Alicki and Fannes in 2012. It has been theorized that quantum resources, such as entanglement, can be used to dramatically speed up the process of charging the battery by charging all cells inside . drums simultaneously collectively.

This is particularly interesting because modern high-capacity batteries can hold many cells. Such collective charging is not possible in conventional batteries, where the cells are charged in parallel independently of each other. The advantage of this collective charge over the parallel charge can be measured by the ratio called “quantum charge advantage”. Later, around the year 2017, it was noticed that there may be two possible sources behind this quantum advantage – namely the “global operation” (where all cells talk to everyone else at the same time, ie “everyone is sitting at one table”) and “everything -to-all-coupling “(each cell can talk to each other but only one cell, ie” many conversations, but each conversation has only two participants “). However, it is unclear whether these two sources are necessary and whether there are limits to the charging speed that can be achieved.

Recently, researchers from the Center for Theoretical Physics of Complex Systems at the Department of Basic Sciences (IBS) have taken these questions further. The article selected as “Editor’s Proposal” in the journal Physical examination letters, showed that all-in-all coupling is irrelevant in quantum batteries and that the presence of global operations is the only ingredient in quantum advantages. The group went on to identify the exact source of this benefit, while ruling out any other possibility and even providing an explicit way to design such batteries.

In addition, the group was able to accurately quantify the charging rate that can be achieved in this scheme. While the maximum charging speed increases linearly with the number of cells in conventional batteries, the study showed that quantum batteries can achieve square scaling of the charging speed using global operation. To illustrate this, consider a typical electric vehicle with a battery that contains about 200 cells. Using this quantum charge would result in a speed of 200 times compared to conventional batteries, which means that at home, the charging time will be reduced from 10 hours to about 3 minutes. In high speed charging stations, the charging time would drop from 30 minutes to a few seconds.

Researchers say the consequences could be far-reaching, and the implications of quantum charging could go far beyond electric cars and consumer electronics. For example, it may find key applications in future fusion power plants that require large amounts of energy to be charged and discharged in an instant. Quantum technologies are, of course, still in their infancy, and there is still a long way to go before these methods can be implemented in practice. However, research results such as these create a promising direction and may encourage funding agencies and companies to invest more in these technologies. If used, it is believed that quantum batteries will completely revolutionize the way we use energy and bring us closer to our sustainable future.

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Materials supplied by Department of Basic Sciences. Note: The content can be edited for style and length.

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