New wireless materials could make power cables obsolete

May 24th, 2011 - 8:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 24 (IANS) Electrical engineers are hopeful that amazing man-made materials should be able to transmit power to laptops and cell phones, even cars and elevators, wirelessly.

Stated simply, fabrication of composite materials known as metamaterials - a synthetic structure - could make wires in any devices obsolete.

Metamaterial, used in earlier studies of the Duke University in the US and likely to be used in future wireless systems, resembles a miniature set of tan Venetian blinds, the journal Physical Review B reports.

Theoretically, this metamaterial can improve the efficiency of “recharging” devices without wires.

As power passes from the transmitting set to the receiving device, most of it scatters and dissipates unless the two devices are extremely close together.

However, the metamaterial postulated by Duke researchers, situated between the energy source and “recipient” device, greatly refocuses energy transmission and permits it to cross the open space between with minimal loss of power, according to a Duke statement.

“We currently have the ability to transmit small amounts of power over short distances, such as in radio frequency identification devices,” said Yaroslav Urzhumov, assistant research professor in electrical and computer engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, who led the study.

“However, larger amounts of energy, such as that seen in lasers or microwaves, would burn up anything in its path. Based on our calculations, it should be possible to use these novel metamaterials to increase the amount of power transmitted without the negative effects,” he said.

Urzhumov works in the lab of David R. Smith, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pratt School of Engineering. Smith’s team was the first to demonstrate that similar metamaterials could act as a cloaking device in 2006.

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