26.10.16

Flat panel remotely charges devices in 10m radius

Graphi illustrating wireless power transfer system Source Duke University
Source: Duke University

A remote charging system that can remotely charge devices within its line of sight has been detailed in a paper published this week. The unit comes in the form of a flat panel - which researchers say resembles a TV - and directs microwave beams to specific devices while avoiding unwanted exposure.

The paper - published by engineers at the University of Washington, Duke University and Intellectual Ventures’ Invention Science Fund (ISF) – demonstrates how metamaterials can charge multiple devices situated up to 10m away. 

Matt Reynolds, UW associated professor of electrical engineering and computer science and engineering, said: “There is an enormous demand for alternatives to today’s clunky charging pads and cumbersome cables, which restrict the mobility of a smart phone or a tablet. 

“Our proposed approach takes advantage of widely used LCD technology to seamlessly deliver wireless power to all kinds of smart devices. 

“The ability to safely direct focused beams of microwave energy to charge specific devices, while avoiding unwanted exposure to people, pets and other objects, is a game-changer for wireless power. And we’re looking into alternatives to liquid crystals that could allow energy transfer at much higher power levels over greater distances.” 
Authors do concede a number of barriers currently exist; including the need for a powerful, low-cost and efficient electromagnetic energy source. 

There are, of course, challenges to engineering such a wireless power transfer system. A powerful, low-cost, and highly efficient electromagnetic energy source would need to be developed. The system would have to automatically shut off if a person or a pet were to walk into the focused electromagnetic beam. And the software and controls for the metamaterial lens would have to be optimised to focus powerful beams while suppressing any unwanted secondary “ghost” beams.

However, the researchers believe these challenges could be overcome to develop a commercially viable system.
 
Download the paper: arxiv.org/abs/1610.06799
 

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