As our personal collections of electronic devices grow, so does the demand for available wall outlets and the unsightly—and potentially dangerous—tangle of power cords.
A University of Maryland (UMD) team of researchers has developed a new technology for wireless power transfer (WPT) that could help people untangle cords and free up outlets for good.
The team's invention makes use of wave properties of light to establish a safe and efficient means of wireless power transfer.
The idea of WPT is to power electronics remotely and autonomously without any intervention by, or distraction to, the user . This invention uses weak radio waves sent along many independent paths from a base station to a user’s device in such a way that when they arrive, all of the waves interfere constructively to transfer significant power to the device.
The team's technology is unique in its capability to power devices at a distance of meters, compared to only centimeters in existing devices, eliminating the need to put the device at a specific location, near an antenna, or near an electrical transformer. Furthermore, unlike other WPT methods, the team’s invention is able to power devices that are in motion.
The team hopes to see its WPT idea used throughout the world, and to date, several companies have expressed an interest in licensing the technology and funding its further development.
The team’s research was supported by grants from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), the Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program, and by CNAM.