Scientists generate power through Wi-Fi devices, raising prospect of phones without batteries

Scientists generate power through Wi-Fi devices, raising prospect of phones without batteries

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Imagine a world where smartphones, laptops, wearables, and other electronics are powered without batteries. Researchers from MIT and elsewhere have taken a step in that direction, with the first fully flexible device that can convert energy from Wi-Fi signals into electricity that could power electronics.

In a remarkable breakthrough, scientists in the United States have come up with a unique invention to generate electricity through WiFi signals.

The discovery could allow for phones and other devices that don’t use batteries – as well as entirely new ways of using smart technologies.

Wi-fi signals captured by an integrated antenna are transformed into a DC current suitable for electronic circuits.

The device named ‘rectenna’, developed from a semiconductor, generates power. It could also allow for phones and other devices that don’t use batteries – as well as entirely new ways of using smart technologies.

According to scientists, the device could be used to provide battery-less power for smartphones, laptops, medical devices and wearable technology, according to the US-led team.

Wi-fi signals captured by an integrated antenna are transformed into a DC current suitable for electronic circuits. Because of its flexibility, it could also be fabricated to cover large areas.

This has major implications for the future of “electronic intelligence”, say the scientists.

Professor Tomas Palacios, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Microsystems Technology Laboratories Centre for Graphene Devices and 2D Systems, said: “What if we could develop electronic systems that we wrap around a bridge or cover an entire highway, or the walls of our office and bring electronic intelligence to everything around us? How do you provide energy for those electronics?

“We have come up with a new way to power the electronics systems of the future – by harvesting wi-fi energy in a way that’s easily integrated in large areas – to bring intelligence to every object around us.”

In experiments, the rectenna generated about 40 microwatts of power when exposed to typical wi-fi signals of around 150 microwatts. That is more than enough to light up a simple mobile display or activate silicon chips.

The research is published in the latest online issue of the journal Nature.

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