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These Superabsorbent Batteries Charge Faster the Larger They Get

In the lab, the prototype quantum batteries are charged with light

2 min read
Stacks of purple and blue layers sit on a gray base. In the center is a section with multiple orange molecule shapes.

A semiconducting organic orange dye enclosed within a wafer-thin reflective cavity can serve as a superabsorbent quantum battery.

CNR/Politecnico di Milano

Quantum physics can often make an object behave in seemingly impossible ways, such as tunneling through barriers as if they were not there or seemingly existing in two or more places at the same time. Now scientists have used quantum physics to create a battery capable of "superabsorption," meaning it absorbs energy more quickly the bigger it gets.

Previous work found that matter could act collectively in surprising ways due to quantum physics. For example, in "superradiance," a group of atoms charged up with energy can release a far more intense pulse of light than they could individually.

In the past decade, researchers have also discovered the reverse of superradiance was possible—superabsorption, with atoms cooperating to display enhanced absorption. However, until now superabsorption was seen for only small numbers of atoms.

Now scientists have developed a superabsorbent "quantum battery" that requires less charging time the larger it gets.

"The potential applications are the development of new types of batteries that can charge faster," says study lead author James Quach, a theoretical physicist at the University of Adelaide, in Australia. "In the same way that there has been a lot of recent investment in quantum computing—that is, using quantum effects to make computing faster—other operations about transferring energy or even harvesting energy can in principle be made faster by using quantum effects."

The new device consists of a reflective waferlike microcavity enclosing a semiconducting organic Lumogen F orange dye, which the researchers charged with energy using a laser. Ultrafast detectors helped the team monitor the way in which this dye charged and stored light energy at femtosecond resolution. As the microcavity size and the number of dye molecules increased, the charging time decreased.

Superabsorption can happen because of constructive interference, "when different waves add up to give a larger effect than either wave on its own," Quach explains. Given enough coherence—where the waves move in lockstep—and clusters of molecules "absorb light more efficiently than if each molecule were acting individually," he says. "The more molecules there are, the more pathways exist to interfere constructively."

Normally, quantum systems such as quantum computers experience disruption when their elements lose coherence, often due to unwanted interactions with their surroundings. As such, most quantum experiments require carefully isolated quantum systems to prevent such decoherence.

"However, in our research, we actually found that some amount of decoherence helped stabilize the energy stored in the quantum battery," Quach says.

Essentially, coherence may help the quantum battery charge fast, but decoherence keeps it from discharging this energy just as quickly. "The right amount of decoherence allows a device featuring coherence-enhanced absorption of light that does not then go on to also discharge with coherence-enhanced emission," Quach says.

Although keeping large quantum systems coherent may prove challenging, "as our quantum battery is not as fragile to environmental interaction as other quantum technologies, such as quantum computers, we are optimistic that we can scale up our experiment to larger devices," Quach says.

These prototype quantum batteries are charged with light. However, "there may be other ways to exploit the same quantum-interference effect in other scenarios," Quach says. "Our next steps are to explore how our results can be combined with other ways of storing and transferring energy to provide a device that could be practically useful. The key challenge, though, is to bridge the gap between the proof of principle here for a small device, and exploiting the same ideas in larger usable devices."

The scientists detailed their findings online 14 January in the journal Science Advances.

The Conversation (2)
Anjan Saha14 Feb, 2022
M

Quantum Super absorbing batteries are charged by coherent laser light beam.It is still in research stage. If we can make coherent sun light beam and charge Super absorbing batteries for Satellite, this will replace SPV panels for Outer Space application. Even the SPV panels used for supply of Power to Terrestrial applications

will be

competitive

to Quantum Super absorbing batteries .

The article has not mentioned the efficiency of energy conversion Super absorbing batteries

At present commercial

SPV (Solar photo voltaic panels) has efficiency of

around 25%. It works in

Notmal sun light.

Super absorbing batteries may be useful

for supplying power to

Stand alone System and

replace conventional UPS for emergency power Supply.

Lee Gibbs10 Feb, 2022
INDV

Light is the perfect charging mechanism. Direct conversion of light into power storage.

This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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