Gone are the days when mobile phones didn't fit in anyone's pocket and Snake was the only game available; however the process of charging your trusty device hasn't changed much over the years. Cable ports might look a little different and smartphones have definitely gotten smaller, but juicing up your handset still takes the one thing we all don't have enough of: time.
Well, it does at the moment — even if you have your own portable charger always sitting at the bottom of your bag, and even if you've scoped out every free charging station and spare powerpoint around town. Enter an Australian researcher who wants to make this timely chore not only quicker but instantaneous, all through the use of quantum batteries.
In fact, the University of Adelaide's Dr James Quach is planning to build the world's first quantum battery, which will harness the unique properties of quantum mechanics. He's just been appointed the institution's newest Ramsay Fellow — a scheme that aims to keep local bright minds working to advance scientific research — and will now spend the next four years trying to create quantum batteries to replace the ones in everyday electronic devices.
If you're wondering how it all works — and how your phone, Kindle, computer or other gadget will go from one to 100-percent charge faster than you can click your fingers — it's based on a feature of quantum mechanics called entanglement, which sees two objects sharing their individual properties. Accordingly, the more batteries that are placed together, the more powerful their charging capacity. "If one quantum battery takes one hour to charge, then two would take 30 minutes, three would take 20 minutes, and so on," Dr Quach explains. "If you had ten thousand batteries, they would all charge in less than a second."
While the concept has been discussed in papers since 2013, the academic plans to "take the theory from the blackboard to the lab."
More than that, the ultimate goal is to build larger quantum batteries for use beyond simply making sure your iPhone keeps buzzing. "The long-term aim is to scale up, to build bigger batteries which will support renewable energy technologies by making it possible for continuous energy supply no matter the weather conditions – rain, hail or shine," says Dr Quach.