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MIT claims advance in wireless power transfer

PORTLAND, Ore. — Researchers are claiming that the obstacles to wireless power transfer can be overcome—at least at distances up to 12 feet.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced the development of wireless power beacons on Tuesday (Nov. 14) at the American Institute of Physics’ Industrial Physics Forum in San Francisco. MIT claims that historical obstacles to wireless power transfer through space are surmountable, and perhaps enabling the wireless recharging of batteries.

Called “nonradiative resonant energy transfer,” the technique harnesses omnidirectional energy beacons without the requirement for unobstructed line-of-sight. The technique wastes no energy and is eco-friendly, MIT claimed.

In MIT’s scheme, power from energy beacons would pass through everything but their intended targets by virtue of resonant power antennas tuned to the power beacon’s frequency. The technique is similar to the mechanism that enables a cellphone’s resonant antenna to receive calls to a specific phone number. In the case of energy transfer, the antenna’s capacitance is increased enough for the efficient transfer of energy—albeit at the expense of range, which is reduced to about 12 feet.

The trick is a lock-and-key mechanism in which the transmitter and receiver are both tuned to the same MHz-range frequency, enabling energy to be transferred only to the intended target. Nonradiative fields ensure that little energy is lost or would adversely affect the environment.


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