Wireless Power For Laptops, Cellphones?
Battery technology has come a long way; more power from cells that are smaller and lighter. But what about devices like laptops, cellphones and Roombas that have no batteries, never need to be plugged in, but still work?
If you've read science fiction or know about the early history of electric power, you've heard this story before. Before the American landscape was covered with wires, inventors like Nikola Tesla thought it might be possible to beam energy through the air. The largest Tesla coil ever built could generate 300,000 watts of power, creating bolts of lightning 130 feet long. Tesla actually managed to successfully transmit about 30 to 50 thousand watts of power without wires using the coil.
However, this kind of power transmission typically required uninterrupted line-of-sight; the beam was usually focused on the object needing power, which means that some method of tracking objects was also needed.
Marin Soljacic, Aristeidis Karalis and J.D.Joannopoulos recently published a paper on Wireless Non-Radiative Energy Transfer, in which they describe several ways of using energy-transfer methods over short distances (like within a room or office cubicle). Rather than filling a space with electromagnetic radiation; the transmitting side of the device would provide a "non-radiative" field that would provide energy only to devices designed to resonate with the field. Unused energy would be (for the most part) reabsorbed by the emitting device.
Researchers worked with two well-known electromagnetic resonant systems: dielectric disks and capacitively-loaded
conducting-wire loops. In their study, both showed acceptable performance.
the proposed mechanism
is promising for many modern applications. For example, in the macroscopic world, this scheme
could be used to deliver power to robots and/or computers in a factory room, or electric buses on
a highway (source-cavity would in this case be a “pipe” running above the highway). In the
microscopic world, where much smaller wavelengths would be used and smaller powers are
needed, one could use it to implement optical inter-connects for CMOS electronics, or to transfer
energy to autonomous nano-objects (e.g. MEMS or nano-robots) without worrying much about
the relative alignment between the sources and the devices.
My favorite science fiction story dealing with radiant power is Robert Heinlein's Waldo, published in 1942. In reading the story, you need to remember that radiant power transmission was all the rage in the 'Teens and 'Twenties.
He had seen radiant power grow up. He had seen the great transmission lines removed from the sky - mined for their copper.
(Read more about radiant power)
Update 04-Nov-2006: As it happens, E.E. "Doc" Smith mentions something very much like this charging scheme in his 1930 novel Skylark Three:
"No wiring — tight beam transmission. The Fenachrone do it with two matched-frequency separable units."
(Read more about Matched-Frequency Separable Units)
Take a look at some other power alternatives:
Read the Soljacic, Karalis and Joannopoulos paper Wireless Non-Radiative Energy Transfer. And thanks to Winchell Chung for the update.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/16/2006)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Dune Fans! Power Your Devices With Sweaty Shirts
Yet another power source from humans.
Zero Mass 'Vaporators' Pull Drinking Water From The Air
Did you think of Star Wars?
Integrated Circuits Printed Right Onto Fabric!
'...a shirt that displayed email on its sleeve. - Margaret Atwood, 2003.
Drones Guided By The Mind Alone
'His treads left no tracks upon the floor...' - Clifford Simak, 1961.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
A 'Genuine Nanorobotic Production Factory'
'Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically, purposefully - constructing something...'
Neuromorphic Computer Offers Non-von Neumann Architecture
Fires faster than brain at 1/10K energy.
Evorus Your Crowd-Powered Conversational Assistant
'...the DS [Daily Schedule] was suddenly transformed into a valued confidante.'
Mealworms Food Of The Future
Get your grubs on.
Alibaba's AI May Read Better Than You
'Mike ... could accept other languages and was doing technical translating - and reading endlessly.'
Musk's Boring Flamethrower
'Skeletons in tatters. Burned by a flesh gun'
Humanity Star LEO Advertisement?
'Everyone has noticed those enormous advertisements...'
Nissan ProPILOT Slippers Are Self-Parking, Autonomous
Beyond science and fiction.
Atomristors - Atomic Memristors - Using Thin Nanomaterials
'I could almost feel those little tunnel junction neuristors working, forming their own interconnections as I operated it.'
Bigelow Prepares Inflatable Lunar Hotel
'Suddenly, hitherto unheard-of sums of money became available for investment in civilian orbital stations.'
Drunk Driver Of Tesla Claims Autopilot Was In Charge
'Mr. Garden, you are in no condition to drive.'
Medical Exoskeleton From Cyberdyne Gets FDA Approval
It's been a long road for HAL-5; I started writing about it in 2005.
Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
'I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily.'
Shiftwear Display Shoes
'He unlaced her shoe and glanced at its readout.'
NASA SEXTANT First With X-Ray Nav In Space
'You need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'
GM Introduces Cruise AV With No Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel?' ... 'I do not need one.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories