The auto industry has a “million-mile” dream for electric vehicles, but it’s a boring one. They want to build a battery that can be charged as many times as it takes to reach a million miles without losing the ability to hold a charge. yawn.
We’re more interested in the advanced quantum physics version of a million-mile battery: one that can last a million miles between charges.
This would effectively eliminate the need for the majority of vehicle operators to: ever recharge their batteries. Even heavy-duty owners can just come to the store every few years for routine maintenance to recharge their batteries.
In front: Quantum batteries are a theoretical technology that quantum physics would use to create units that can hold enormous amounts of energy and charge incredibly quickly.
There are numerous teams of scientists working in universities, startups and corporate labs around the world to develop quantum batteries and, judging by the slate of recent research papers on this subject, the scientific community in general seems to think we are on the brink of a breakthrough.
Whether that means quantum batteries are a month or decades away remains to be seen.
Background: Batteries are a very complex technology. Even the tiny batteries we use for consumer goods are a mystery to scientists.
Like dr. Jeanette Garcia, senior manager of quantum applications and algorithms at IBM, said in a recent company mail†
We don’t really know what goes on in batteries. This thing is a mystery. Of course we know how to make batteries. But we can’t really see what’s going on inside a battery, on a molecular level, while it’s working.
To that end, companies such as IBM and Mercedes Benz are teaming up to create quantum computing systems that can simulate the molecular interactions in a battery.
In the short term, this could lead to better batteries of all kinds, ranging from cell phone batteries that charge faster and last longer to EVs with longer range and even better industrial energy engineering and power consumption.
Quantum batteries are even more complex than regular batteries. One of the big ideas that scientists are exploring on the way to its development is a concept called “superabsorption†
Traditional batteries operate on an intuitive principle: the larger they are, the longer they typically take to charge.
However, with superabsorption, quantum batteries would reverse the script. The more molecules you pack into a superabsorbent battery, the faster it charges. That means a battery the size of a building would charge faster than a battery the size of a cell phone.
Quick take: It is impossible to say exactly when fancy new quantum batteries will hit the market. But one thing is for sure, if they do it will be huge.
Imagine having an iPad that you never need to charge or a Tesla that can drive a million city miles between charges.
More importantly, though, quantum battery technology could save us from the human-caused global climate crisis and our reliance on harmful fuel sources.