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Digital Quantum Battery Could Boost Energy Density Tenfold
PhysOrg ^ | 12/22/09 | Lisa Zyga

Posted on 12/23/2009 8:38:17 PM PST by LibWhacker


This figure shows the energy
density and the power density of
nano vacuum tubes in comparison
to other energy storage devices.
Credit: H?bler and Osuagwu.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Physicists theorize that quantum phenomena could provide a major boost to batteries, with the potential to increase energy density up to 10 times that of lithium ion batteries. According to a new proposal, billions of nanoscale capacitors could take advantage of quantum effects to overcome electric arcing, an electrical breakdown phenomenon which limits the amount of charge that conventional capacitors can store.

In their study, Alfred Hubler and Onyeama Osuagwu, both of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have investigated energy storage capacity in arrays of nano vacuum tubes, which contain little or no gas. When the tubes' gap size - or the distance between electrodes - is about 10 nanometers wide, electric arcing is suppressed, preventing energy loss. Further, each tube can be addressed individually, making the technology digital and offering the possibility for data storage in conjunction with energy storage.

The physicists calculated that the large electric field exhibited under these conditions could lead to an energy density anywhere between two and 10 times greater than that of today's best battery technologies. The scientists also estimated that the power density (i.e., the charge-discharge rates) could be orders of magnitude greater than that of today's batteries. In addition, the nature of the charging and discharging avoids the leakage faced by conventional batteries, so that the nano vacuum batteries waste very little energy and have a virtually unlimited lifetime.

The scientists say that it may be possible to build a prototype of the battery in the next year. Since the energy density is independent from the materials used, the nano vacuum tubes could be built from inexpensive, non-toxic materials. The nano vacuum tubes could also be fabricated using existing photolithographic techniques, and could be easily combined with integrated circuits.

As for the possibility of data storage, the physicists explain that each nano vacuum tube can have two gates, an energy gate and an information gate. Each nano vacuum tube can also be charged and discharged individually, in any arbitrary order. By inserting a MOSFET (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor) in the wall of a nano vacuum tube, the state of the tube can be determined without charging or discharging it.

"For example, to store the number 22, one would convert it to binary notation 22 = 10110," the scientists wrote in their paper. "Then use the energy gates to charge the first, third and fourth tube and leave the second and fifth tube uncharged. When the energy gate holds a charge, it induces an electric field in the MOSFET that partially cancels the electric field from the electrodes of the information gate, which modifies the threshold voltage of the MOSFET. During read-out, a voltage slightly above the regular threshold voltages is applied to the information gate, and the MOSFET channel will become conducting or remain insulating, depending on the voltage threshold of the MOSFET, which depends on the charge on the energy gate. The current flow through the MOSFET channel is measured and provides a binary code, reproducing the stored data."

As Hubler explained in a recent article in MIT's Technology Review, the digital quantum battery concept can be viewed in different ways as a variation of several technologies.

"If you look at it from a digital electronics perspective, it's just a flash drive," Hubler said. "If you look at it from an electrical engineering perspective, you would say these are miniaturized vacuum tubes like in plasma TVs. If you talk to a physicist, this is a network of capacitors."

Hubler has applied for DARPA funding to develop a prototype of the digital quantum battery, and find out what will actually happen when loading the nano vacuum tubes with large amounts of energy.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Science
KEYWORDS: battery; boost; density; digital; energy; quantum; tenfold

1 posted on 12/23/2009 8:38:18 PM PST by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker
Hubler has applied for DARPA funding to develop a prototype of the digital quantum battery, and find out what will actually happen when loading the nano vacuum tubes with large amounts of energy.

Before he gets the DARPA funding he can buy an old CRT TV set. It contains two electrodes and an electric field between them. When the field is large enough (25 kV in a TV) electrons leave the cathode and fly to the anode, closing the circuit. The cathode is heated to facilitate emission of electrons, but it is not strictly required - see Neon lamps. This puts the top limit on the voltage of his capacitor even if we assume that there is no leakage anywhere else. All the discussion about how to use FETs to measure this or that has no bearing on storage of energy.

2 posted on 12/23/2009 8:53:23 PM PST by Greysard
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To: Greysard

That’s my take also. This article is much more about a memory device than about some major increase in energy density.


3 posted on 12/23/2009 9:07:42 PM PST by bigbob
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To: Greysard
Hubler has applied for DARPA funding ....

Unless it proves the existence of "global warming" it won't receive any funding.

4 posted on 12/23/2009 9:16:09 PM PST by reg45 (Be calm everyone. The idiot children are in charge!)
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To: LibWhacker
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Isnt that where the HAL 9000 was invented back in 1997?

5 posted on 12/23/2009 10:13:22 PM PST by OCC
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To: neverdem; SunkenCiv; Myrddin; Robert A. Cook, PE; Wonder Warthog; Ernest_at_the_Beach; ...
Like, *PING*, dudes.

Cheers!

6 posted on 12/23/2009 10:46:45 PM PST by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: grey_whiskers

thanks, bfl


7 posted on 12/23/2009 11:09:58 PM PST by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: LibWhacker

bflr


8 posted on 12/23/2009 11:35:01 PM PST by Kevmo (So America gets what America deserves - the destruction of its Constitution. ~Leo Donofrio, 6/1/09)
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To: grey_whiskers

Like, cool dude. Might work. Might not.

Worth trying.


9 posted on 12/24/2009 12:15:40 AM PST by Robert A. Cook, PE (I can only donate monthly, but socialists' ABBCNNBCBS continue to lie every day!)
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To: grey_whiskers

Sounds a bit similar to the approach EESTOR is taking. Nanostructured materials seem to offer a whole other level of performance of all sorts of properties.


10 posted on 12/24/2009 3:39:22 AM PST by Wonder Warthog
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