BOFFINS HAVE found a way to convert WiFi signals into power, which could eventually see devices running perpetually (as long as there's WiFi about).
The technology isn't limited to devices that use WiFi, like phones. It can be adapted for any device that currently uses a battery, which will be a massive kick in the teeth to the powerbank market.
MIT clever dicks (isn't it always?) have created the ‘rectenna' which despite sounding like the beginnings of an anal probe joke, is actually a tiny nano-semi-conductor just a few atoms thick.
"We have come up with a new way to power the electronics systems of the future - by harvesting WiFi energy in a way that's easily integrated in large areas - to bring intelligence to every object around us," enthuses Professor Tomas Palacios, the director of the Institute of Technology and Microsystems Technology Laboratories Centre for Graphene Devices and 2D Systems (long business card, much?) at MIT.
The technique could even lead to specific "wrappers" for enclosed spaces which transmit wifi specifically for conversion to DC power. Converting from AC to DC is always the trick and it looks like these guys have found an efficient way to do it.
The rectenna can generate about 40 microwatts (μw) from a 150 μw WiFi signal, enough for basic phone function.
Professor Jesus Grajal, the paper's co-author has suggested in this month's Nature that it could even lead to "smart pills" which can stream health data, live and direct from your own, personal rectenna. And suddenly we're back on bowels again.
Although there's likely to be a demand for batteries for a good while, eventually it's hoped that the technique can be refined so that there could never be a repeat of the Galaxy Note 7 debacle.
The researchers are currently looking at ways to improve the power-draw and efficiency of the system, in the hope of creating a commercially viable standard that could, very well, change the world. μ
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