Technology 2 min read

Breakthrough: New Device Turns WiFi Signals Into Electricity

Xu Zhang holding the WiFi signal-harvesting device that he and his colleagues developed | MIT

Xu Zhang holding the WiFi signal-harvesting device that he and his colleagues developed | MIT

An international team of researchers recently invented a new device that turns WiFi signals into electricity. The breakthrough could let electronic devices charge wirelessly.

The researchers claim that their device paves the way for the development of energy-harvesting sheets. These sheets can capture WiFi signals and convert them into wireless electricity that can power electronic devices.

“Such a design has allowed a fully flexible device that is fast enough to cover most of the radio-frequency bands used by our daily electronics, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular LTE, and many others,” Xu Zhang, lead author of the study from MIT, said.

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How to Convert WiFi Signals Into Electricity

The team’s device, known as a rectenna, consists of a bendy antenna attached to a flexible molybdenum disulfide semiconductor. With a thickness of only three atoms, the device could find implementation in countless devices.

The antenna collects WiFi signals and other radio frequency signals. It then converts the harvested signals into alternating current that flows into the semiconductor. Then, the semiconductor converts the signals into usable electricity.

The researchers reported that a typical office could contain ambient WiFi signals worth over 100 microwatts of electricity. Their device’s efficiency currently harvests between 30 and 40 percent of this electricity.

“We have come up with a new way to power the electronics systems of the future – by harvesting Wi-Fi energy in a way that’s easily integrated into large areas – to bring intelligence to every object around us,” said, Professor Tomás Palacios, co-author of the study published in the journal Nature.

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Chelle Fuertes

Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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