Scientists have found a way to wirelessly transmit electricity to a nearby moving object.
The method may have applications in transportation, medical devices, and more. If electric cars could recharge while driving down a highway, for example, it would virtually eliminate concerns about their range and lower their cost, perhaps making electricity the standard fuel for vehicles.
“In addition to advancing the wireless charging of vehicles and personal devices like cellphones, our new technology may untether robotics in manufacturing, which also are on the move,” says Shanhui Fan, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University and senior author of the study.
“In theory, one could drive for an unlimited amount of time without having to stop to recharge…”
“We still need to significantly increase the amount of electricity being transferred to charge electric cars, but we may not need to push the distance too much more,” he says.
The group built on existing technology developed in 2007 at MIT for transmitting electricity wirelessly over a distance of a few feet to a stationary object. In the new work, the team transmitted electricity wirelessly to a moving LED lightbulb. That demonstration only involved a 1-milliwatt charge, whereas electric cars often require tens of kilowatts to operate.
The team is now working on greatly increasing the amount of electricity that can be transferred, and tweaking the system to extend the transfer distance and improve efficiency.
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Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse