Wireless charging is becoming more and more important. But usually, you need to be very close to the charger for it to work effectively forcing you to put your device exactly to one spot taking the benefits of wireless charging away to a large degree.
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But Tomáš Palacios from MIT and his team aren’t satisfied with that. That is why they developed an ultra-thin device capable of receiving Wi-Fi and turning it into electricity. Such a device is called a rectenna – rectifying antenna – and is capable of transforming electromagnetic radiation into direct current. So far most rectennas were small and made from a solid material such as silicone making them capable of powering only the smallest devices.
But Palacios and his team developed a new type of rectenna that is flexible and might work on large scales. The key component in the rectenna is made from molybdenum disulfide. This semiconductor 2D material has a thickness of just three atoms making it very flexible while retaining good functionality.
The researchers say that their molybdenum disulfide rectenna can receive 10 GHz wireless signals and convert them into electricity with a 30 % effectivity. That is much better compared to other flexible rectennas. But its still not ideal, non-flexible rectennas can achieve up to 60 % efficiency.
While at the moment the antenna isn’t really capable of powering most devices in the future similar flexible rectennas with could power sophisticated electronic systems that could cover buildings. Such systems could provide smart systems that would be powered by the omnipresent Wi-Fi signals.
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