Energy-harvesting design aims to turn Wi-Fi signals into usable power

Posted: March 30, 2020 by oldbrew in Electro-magnetism, Energy, innovation, research
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An end to this?


The researchers also imagine devices that would wirelessly power implants in a patient’s body without any surgery to change batteries.

Any device that sends out a Wi-Fi signal also emits terahertz waves —electromagnetic waves with a frequency somewhere between microwaves and infrared light, says Technology.org.

These high-frequency radiation waves, known as “T-rays,” are also produced by almost anything that registers a temperature, including our own bodies and the inanimate objects around us.

Terahertz waves are pervasive in our daily lives, and if harnessed, their concentrated power could potentially serve as an alternate energy source. Imagine, for instance, a cellphone add-on that passively soaks up ambient T-rays and uses their energy to charge your phone.

However, to date, terahertz waves are wasted energy, as there has been no practical way to capture and convert them into any usable form.

Now physicists at MIT have come up with a blueprint for a device they believe would be able to convert ambient terahertz waves into a direct current, a form of electricity that powers many household electronics.

Their design takes advantage of the quantum mechanical or atomic behavior of the carbon material graphene. They found that by combining graphene with another material, in this case, boron nitride, the electrons in graphene should skew their motion toward a common direction.

Any incoming terahertz waves should “shuttle” graphene’s electrons, like so many tiny air traffic controllers, to flow through the material in a single direction, as a direct current.

The researchers have published their results in the journal Science Advances, and are working with experimentalists to turn their design into a physical device.

“We are surrounded by electromagnetic waves in the terahertz range,” says lead author Hiroki Isobe, a postdoc in MIT’s Materials Research Laboratory. “If we can convert that energy into an energy source we can use for daily life, that would help to address the energy challenges we are facing right now.”

Full report here.

Comments
  1. JB says:

    Crank High Voltage (Jason Statham) here we come.
    Just don’t know what they’re going to do about the exponential field roll off.
    Or the antenna efficiency.

  2. Curious George says:

    I like science fiction – which is what a “terahertz wi-fi” currently is.

  3. ivan says:

    They have either been reading some of the old pulp Science Fiction or have read about Tesla’s broadcast power experiments.

    The big question is how do they propose getting round the inverse square law and the other thing is who pays for the wi-fi energy used?

    From what I have seen too many people trying to use a wi-fi transmitter means that the service gets very bad and if you then have people leaching power off that the service could well go down – not a good idea.

  4. BoyfromTottenham says:

    “If we can convert that energy into an energy source we can use for daily life, that would help to address the energy challenges we are facing right now.” Hiroki Isobe, a postdoc in MIT’s Materials Research Laboratory.
    This guy might know something about materials, but obviously he knows zilch about radio signal propagation. How this rubbish got published is a mystery to me.

  5. stpaulchuck says:

    not to worry guys! Ms. AOC has the fix!! totally carbon free