Every day we are exposed to a huge amount of microwaves,like Wi-Fi or mobile signals. Every day the battery of our smartphone barely survives the day. Well, two researchers in Duke University have thought about how to relate this daily issues. The team formed by Alexander Katko and Allen Hawkes lead by Steven Cummer have developed a new technology that is able to wirelessly convert microwaves into electrical signals that can be used, for example, to charge your smartphone.
This is done based in the same working principle as the solar panels, but using microwaves instead of solar energy. The key to the power harvester lies in its application of metamaterials, engineered structures that can capture various forms of wave energy and tune them for useful applications.
The researchers were able to generate 7.3 V of electricity using the device showed in the picture. By now the energetic efficiency of the harvester is only about 6-10%, but Katko and Hawkes assure that soon they will reach 37%, which is similar to the conversion rate of a solar panel. Researchers stated that with this kind of technology signals from a lot of different frequencies and types of energy, including vibration and sound energy harvesting can be converted to electricity.
Seems clear that by now the possible applications are very limited but in the future it can be an important advance to solve battery duration problems. By developing the technology and improving its performance we can easily imagine it integrated in your smartphone allowing you to charge it anytime anywhere.