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In focus

Quantum batteries offer revolution in energy storage

It could mean everlasting electronics and cars that recharge quicker than it takes to fill up a tank of fuel. Anthony Cuthbertson discovers that scientists leading the development of quantum batteries are now optimistic of making them a reality

Saturday 07 October 2023 14:00 BST
Quantum batteries hold the potential to transform energy storage
Quantum batteries hold the potential to transform energy storage (Getty/iStock)

Imagine recharging your phone with the flick of a switch. Or a battery charging directly from the sun. Or electronics never losing efficiency. This is the future envisioned by a group of scientists currently working on a technology that, if successful, could forever change the way we interact with the world and each other.

The technology is quantum batteries, which unlike their conventional chemical counterparts – such as the lithium-ion batteries found in smartphones and electric cars – store energy from photons, not ions and electrons. The only problem is, no one is quite sure yet whether they will actually work at scale.

First formally proposed in 2012 by researchers at the University of Gdansk in Poland and KU Leuven in Belgium, quantum batteries rely on the mysterious properties of quantum mechanics, specifically a phenomenon known as superabsorption. This involves a principle relating to a molecule’s ability to absorb light, and means that quantum batteries actually become more efficient with each new molecule that is added.

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