Researchers Not Giving Up On Dream Of Wireless Power

from the but-I'm-not-the-only-one dept

At some point or another, everybody’s fantasized about it: wouldn’t it be great if an electronic device could be powered wirelessly, fully eliminating the need for cables? It’s an idea that’s been talked about for a long time, back to the work of Nikola Tesla. Now a new team of researchers at MIT is going after the problem again. They believe that there’s solid physics backing the idea up, and in fact their research builds on Tesla’s original work. Still, this is firmly at the theoretical stages. Consider how long it’s taking for fuel cell powered mobile devices to take off. We can safely say that this will take a much, much longer, if it ever comes about.

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Comments on “Researchers Not Giving Up On Dream Of Wireless Power”

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Anonymous Coward says:

sure, you can have wireless power. Motors/generators are wireless power. look at how big they are.

look at transformers. they transfer power wirelessly. albiet over small distances.

sure, it’s possible, however the ammount of energy needed to transmit the power would probably greatly overshaddow the usefullness of wireless power.

unless there is some type of “quantum” device that can broadcast shortrange low power, and have another device that can “use it” kinda like RF ID tags. right?

i doubt we’ll get to the point where our ipods/cellpones/laptops will recharge/run off of this wireless power.

plus, won’t it cause cancer?

Darryl says:

wireless power

I don’t think wireless power has anything to do with rechargeable batteries. I think the idea is to transmit electricity itself through the air, similar to how data is transferred wirelessly. One would conclude that this is physically impossible, which is probably why it’s still considered a dream. But then again, lightning travels through the air and contains enormous amounts of electricity. This idea reminds me of nuclear fusion. It’s done by nature all the time but humans have yet to duplicate it artificially.

Ron says:


Yes, lightening, and its lower powered alter-ego static electricity, do travel through the air but they are point to point transfers of current from an area of higher potential to one of lower. In the low power version the discharge causes a slight tingle. In the more dramatic version, there are severe deleterious effects on the recipient. I’m not sure that thousands of point to point discharges to power vehicles or whatever are practical. And, the thought of some sort of pervasive EM field, one strong enough to power some sort of general use device, is not all that attractive. But, how cool would it be if someone gets it right and we can just draw power for our electirc cars directly from the “air”?!

Howard Lee Harkness (user link) says:

New battery technology

There is a new LiON battery technology that can withstand more than 9,000 deep-discharge cycles, does not have the problem with thermal runaway, and can be recharged very quickly. The one drawback is a slightly smaller energy capacity, which I could easily live with in exchange for never having to replace another cellphone, PDA, or laptop battery.

For devices which have intermittent use, such as laptops and cellphones, I don’t see any need for wireless
power. For things that run continuously, wireless power is not likely to be economical enough to replace the AC cord.

Violins and Musical Accessories

Anonymous Coward says:

anyone got any transmission/power equations? id like to see the model they use. the mit article shows a funky little antenna on each device. they mention resonance. how does this play into everything? current through a resistive circuit will cause a voltage drop (i.e. heating of the coil) that will dampen the actual power, right? just like you can have a resonance frequency on a spring, but have it follows under the forces of friction. in my physics classes, we tried to play this this resonance idea. for “smooth” systems (i.e. lubed up track cars) you could get resonance at small amplitudes. however for a system such as a block on sandpaper, the amplitude had to be much higher to account for the loss due to friction.

so, please somebody correct me if i’m wrong. i’m only a 3rd semester engineering student.

Anonymous Coward says:

So let me get this straight, the guys at MIT think this is possible? They should come here so they can find out all the geniuses on this blog can tell them it isn’t possible or that the inherent dangers make it impracticle. Probably a lot of you are “smarter” than me, but while I realize that, perhaps you need to realize that there just might be people smarter than you.

sceptic says:

EM "friction"

Among other things EM waves “lose” power due to distance from the originating point as they are most likely not send in a perfect beam, therefore power/area diminishes. Was that layman terms enough? EM field can also heat up the medium it is going through (I HOPE you can find an example yourself) losing power that way. Of course, choosing correct frequency for the given medium as well as tuning the transmitter/receiver for minimal signal loss over distance can negate all that.
Of course, the question of what those waves do exactly to a human body still would be a question. Just like effects of any other EM fields or even solar flares.
I am sure that outside this little discussion no one even bothered to think about it. Go us.

Lasander says:

Its all about the money.

Wireless power is possible. Stick a fluorescent tube close to a power line and see what happens. The problem is getting that power to cover larger areas and safety (cancer?).
But I think the biggest hindrance to the technology is that it is a lot harder to meter so how will power companies charge you? Without an incentive to make money power companies are not going to adopt or even research this.

Foo Yuck says:


Well, because he didn’t mention cellbread. He mentioned cellpone. That’s where the joke is, you inbred cocksmoker. But I guess since you have to have cornpone explained, logic dictates that the joke would have to be explained to you as well.

A Wikipedia is overrun by misinformation and fags, but maybe that’s why you hang out there, since you’re apparently well acquainted with both.

PhysicsGuy says:

EM "friction"

Did you not read the link either, this is why they’re using resonance…

—Typically, systems that use electromagnetic radiation, such as radio antennas, are not suitable for the efficient transfer of energy because they scatter energy in all directions, wasting large amounts of it into free space.

To overcome this problem, the team investigated a special class of “non-radiative” objects with so-called “long-lived resonances”.

When energy is applied to these objects it remains bound to them, rather than escaping to space. “Tails” of energy, which can be many metres long, flicker over the surface.

“If you bring another resonant object with the same frequency close enough to these tails then it turns out that the energy can tunnel from one object to another,” said Professor Soljacic.

Hence, a simple copper antenna designed to have long-lived resonance could transfer energy to a laptop with its own antenna resonating at the same frequency. The computer would be truly wireless.

Any energy not diverted into a gadget or appliance is simply reabsorbed. —

again, if you want details then e-mail the guy… i am sure that outside this little discussion nobody is “a Principal Research Scientist in the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT” and has conducted experiments on the subject in hand yet within this little discussion we all seem to be experts as to why this won’t work and are sure it will cause cancer even though we don’t understand what it is or the principles as to why it works… go us.

rstr5105 says:

This is feasible

This is, in actuallity, not only very feasible, but also very likely to occur if the researchers play their cards right and don’t stop working on it. I do note that there are problems with power/distance, and that also that is a very highly variable formula because it’s affected by stupid things like water vapor in the air. (Stupid clouds! Who needs you?) however, I can see this working.

On the same note, Another model i can see working a little bit better (if we can improve the piezo technology) is incase a piezo device in our mobile products (again the improvement would require it to generate much more voltage than they already do) design that device so resonate at an AUDIO frequency of say 24gHz (Higher hertz means less atmospheric disruption) and use audio resonation to power our piezo generator.

I spent four years in the electronics field so I know that in theory that could work, IF we are willing to use an older tech instead of creating new.

mousepaw says:

Some light on the subject

Just in case anybody is interested in Tesla’s theory of free energy, check out this site:

Tesla wasn’t talking about batteries, rechargeable or otherwise. It isn’t about generators, alternators, wind power or solar power.

I’ll admit, I had to read it a bunch of times because it’s almost as hard to wrap your head around as Mike’s theory of scarcity/abundance.


I hope this is what MIT is going after…

shane says:

I know i’m a little late but there are lots of things that provide wireless electric,
most use induction… the same way a stop light induction loop detects a car, an elecromagnetic loop of wire senses a small voltage change when a piece of metal passes over it….
here are links to induction stuff
A small battery charger

panasonic charger

those are things that are already for sale… there are induction chargers for electric razors too.. i just got lazy. anyway… .it’s all already working. maybe it’s for more high powered things.?

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