December 8, 2022


CEO of NTT . ResearchResearch leader in physics, informatics, cryptography, information security, and medical and health informatics.

What comes first, the science of quantum computing or its purpose? There is a case for the latter. Physicists have for years been working on several different ways to take advantage of qubits, the quantum version of a binary bit, but the techniques so far have been largely designed for the purpose of solving certain kinds of problems.

One of the labs I have been associated with is doing basic research on quantum computing while partnering with different academic groups interested in applications where quantum computing is expected to make a difference as in the fields of compressed sensing and drug discovery. However, work is proceeding rapidly elsewhere on other fronts – for example, at the intersection of transportation and manufacturing. Two years ago, a McKinsey & Company The study stated that a tenth of the quantum computing use cases under investigation could benefit the auto industry. A subset of these cases relate to the types of batteries that will power electric vehicles (EVs) in the future.

EV battery wallpaper

Here’s the bigger problem: While the cost of electric vehicle battery packs has fallen dramatically over the past 10 years, lithium-ion batteries still make up a significant portion of the overall EV costs. Higher purchase prices will deter wider adoption and delay hoped-for reductions in the carbon footprint.

On top of the cost structure, there is performance. Consumers want electric cars that run reliably, go long distances without recharging, have minimal environmental burdens and are safe to drive. Let’s explain what these requirements mean for product developers and engineers. Reliability and distance are matters of battery life, energy density, charging time, equilibrium voltage, temperature and discharge rate, among other factors. Green means it is recyclable, avoiding pollutants and reducing waste. Battery safety ultimately relates to the thermal stability of its chemical components.

Ultimately, solutions to complex problems require trade-offs. Consider Tesla, which decided last year to change the type of batteries it uses in standard-range cars. The company dropped lithium, nickel, cobalt, and aluminum (NCA) in favor of Lithium, Iron and Phosphate (LFP), which is less expensive and safer, although not energy-intensive or resistant to low temperatures. These compounds are attached to the battery’s positive electrode or cathode. Automakers are betting that quantum computing will help them determine optimal battery chemistry.

Auto and quantum manufacturers

Since 2017, Volkswagen has been researching quantum computing, first with Canadian company D-Wave and later with Google. In 2018, they reported using quantum computing to simulate particles, such as Lithium, hydrogen and carbon chains, with the aim of developing a “tailor-made battery”. Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, has hired IBM’s quantum team to work on it sulfur lithium in 2020 and was recently reported to be working with IBM to accelerate development times with a better understanding of lithium ion chemistry.

Toyota is working with Tokyo-based QunaSys on quantum technologies to improve modeling of EV battery materials Electronic Structure. For its part, Hyundai has partnered with Maryland-based IonQ to study vehicles for its batteries, including lithium oxide. Founded in 2015, IonQ began trading in 2021 as “the world’s first public quantum computing company.” Unlike Google, IBM, and others, which use superconducting rings to generate qubits, IonQ uses trapped ions.

Another startup, Canadian company Xanadu, who recently published an article on temper nature About achieving the quantitative advantage (ie proving that its results exceed those of a classical computer), batteries are also targeted. In a paper co-authored with several academics and Volkswagen researchers, Xanadu scientists present a “quantum algorithm to calculate balanced cellular voltages, ion mobility, and thermal stability.” Their goal is to simulate another cathode material, dilithium – iron – silicate.

Like the Coherent Ising Machine (CIM) that powers one of my company’s labs, Xanadu’s approach to quantum computing is based on photonics.

Pre-global curriculum

There are many other problems with cars, aside from batteries, that quantum computing is poised to tackle — and it is best that industry leaders keep a close eye on developments in this field. BMW recently announced the winners of a car Quantum computing challenge Including automated driving, material deformations, equipment configuration and quality analysis.

At the same time, current technology can still meet many of the industry’s current computational needs. The UK-based Faraday Corporation uses a digital supercomputer (called Mikhail) to research lithium-ion batteries, next-generation lithium-ion cathode materials and what lies behind them. Excluding today’s supercomputers may be a mistake, in part because there is great promise in combining quantum and classical capabilities in hybrid architectures.

However, since we’re still a few years away from having a “universal” quantum device that can solve any number of problems, the discussion of quantum computing will likely remain close to the specific problem it aims to solve, whether it’s related to EV batteries or something else. . Application and industry.


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