Powering Wirelessly

2019-01-08 | 11:08:38 AM

By Bart Grabowski

The future of wireless charging may soon get a drastic makeover thanks to Chris Mi, an Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor at San Diego State University.  Mi and his team have developed a new system that allows simultaneous wireless power transfer (WPT) to 10 devices. WPT systems are most commonly used for smartphone charging, but we will soon see the technology incorporated into other devices.

According to Mi’s recent study, the fundamental issue with wireless power transfer is load charging. Due to conventional circuit fundamentals, WPT technology is currently usable only on an all-in-one system because a single circuit must evenly supply power throughout each load. This presents an obstacle for WPT use on multiple devices, because as the resistance (electric current) changes for one load to another so does the power supply.

        

Photo via San Diego State University/IEEE


Mi and his team were able to alter this through magnetic induction.  They built separate repeater units, pictured above, which have two coils side-by-side. The first coil supplies the wireless power to the respective load. The other coil can transfer the same amount of power to the next load in line. Magnetic induction allowed them to reach maximum efficiency for ten loads 83.9 percent of the time compared to another study, which reached 90 percent efficiency for only three loads. The total length of his experimental set up was roughly two feet or 6cm between each unit. Although this may not seem like a big deal, it is a vital step in providing long-distance wireless charging.

Life may become much simpler with newer WPT systems. Imagine walking into your home or apartment, and all your devices such as your computers, headphones, and phones begin charging. No more cords, dongles, and forgetting to charge your stuff. Full-fledged WPT systems are still in the early stages of development, but Mi and his team have provided a boost to the wireless technology field, and they have jolted their way to the top.

 

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