Researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) have collaborated with scientists from the University of Kaiserslautern-Landau and the University of Stuttgart to develop a quantum motor that utilizes the principles of quantum mechanics to generate energy. Instead of relying on fuel combustion, this motor harnesses the unique properties of particles at the quantum level.

In a traditional car engine, fuel and air are ignited in a chamber, resulting in an explosion that heats up the gas and pushes a piston, producing work. However, in the quantum motor, scientists have replaced heat with a change in the quantum nature of particles in the gas. This change takes advantage of the energy difference between bosons and fermions, which are two classifications of particles based on their quantum characteristics.

At very low temperatures, bosons have a lower energy state compared to fermions. By cyclically switching the particles between bosons and fermions, researchers can power the motor without using heat. The efficiency of this quantum motor is quite high, reaching up to 25% in the current experimental setup.

While this development is exciting for the field of quantum mechanics and has potential implications for quantum technologies, there are still challenges to overcome before practical applications can be realized. Maintaining low temperatures in the system is crucial for preserving quantum effects, but it requires a substantial amount of energy.

The next steps in the research will involve addressing theoretical issues regarding the motor’s operation, optimizing its performance, and exploring its potential application in other devices such as batteries and sensors. Overall, this quantum motor represents a promising advancement in the field, but further work is needed to bring it closer to practical implementation.

– Artur Widera, A quantum motor in the BCS-BEC transition, Nature (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023-06469-8.