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A Stanford University researcher and his team are applying the concept of parity-time symmetry to effectively combine the charger and device-to-be-charged so that charging can occur at greater distances without suffering a loss in charging power. This technology could enable phones to charge while in use and at great distances, and perhaps this concept could be applied elsewhere and yield an even greater payoff.


The trend of wireless charging is growing, and consequently, scientists are striving to improve the technological methods being employed. Logitech G is unveiling a high-performance wireless mouse with a charging pad that claims to be as, if not more effective than wired mice, and as for mobile phones, AirVolt is planning to release the first wireless charging system for smartphones that harnesses power from a radio wave transmitter. Using a different approach, Shanhui Fan, from Stanford University, and his team of researchers have published a paper in Nature regarding their experiment with wireless charging using a “nonlinear parity-time symmetry circuit,” and the application of this quantum phenomenon (i.e. parity-time symmetry) enables the charging system to self-adjust. According to Sandrine Ceurstemont of New Scientist, their experiment used LEDs to assess the efficacy of the wireless power transfer. So, if there were a loss of power it would be reflected in the brightness of the LED bulb, and their method consisted of “...coupling circuits in the charger and LED bulb so that the energy boost from an amplifier in the charger exactly balanced out the loss of energy as the bulb moved further away,” which was ultimately successful up to a distance of one meter.


Wireless charging technology appears to be taking the world by storm, and the research paper published by Fan and his team suggests that their development of safe and effective wireless power transfer has opened avenues for broader applications such as, “...wireless powering of implantable medical devices and wireless charging of stationary electric vehicles.” This advancement may not be available in the very near future, but the notion that these things are within the realm of possibility is exciting in itself. Ceurstemont says that Fan and his colleagues are working to improve the range of their charger in the hopes that one day wireless systems could be used to transmit power over long distances; perhaps even to power moving vehicles.


As cool and convenient as wireless charging is, it might also change the world by making power available virtually everywhere, as another group is currently trying to send power over great distances using lasers and balloons (which could be very useful in disaster relief). They hope that eventually solar power can be collected in space and relayed to Earth because it could yield more energy as compared to solar panels on the ground since some power is lost as the sun’s rays pass through Earth’s atmosphere. These advancements would revolutionize the availability of power and the way it is supplied and consumed, and we can only hope that these technological innovations are implementable soon.


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