MIT's 2D antenna turns Wi-Fi signals into power


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Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a 2D material that is based on existing rectifying antenna, or rectenna, devices. These capture AC electronic waves from the air and turn them into DC power. They tend to use silicon or gallium arsenide, making them rigid and suitable for powering small electronics, but the MIT version is only a few atoms thick, meaning it’s flexible enough to be fabricated to larger sizes.

MIT used semiconducting material molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), which is three atoms thick, to create the new rectenna. It’s able to convert up to 10 GHz of wireless signals with around 30 percent efficiency. While that’s higher than other flexible designs, it still below the efficiency of rigid rectifiers, which reach around 60 percent.

The rectenna was able to generate about 40 microwatts of power when exposed to typical Wi-Fi signals of around 150 microwatts. That’s not enough to power your smartphone, but it could light up an LED or charge a low-power SoC, potentially making it ideal for Internet of Things products, wearables, and small medical devices. The team now aims to improve efficiency and create more complex devices.

"What if we could develop electronic systems that we wrap around a bridge or cover an entire highway, or the walls of our office and bring electronic intelligence to everything around us?" said Tomás Palacios, director of MIT and Microsystems Technology Laboratories Centre for Graphene Devices and 2D Systems, who co-authored the study. "How do you provide energy for those electronics? 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 in large areas – to bring intelligence to every object around us."

Main image: ZinaidaSopina via Shutterstock

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Uncle Al

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Great concept but one has to wonder just how much of this "free" roaming energy we can surround outselves with before we start seeing significant health effects. The new 5G sounds fantastic until you read the spec's and realize that once it's in place, you won't be able to hide from it without some significant modifications to your life and lifestyle ...... This has been on the radar of many health professionals for awhile but for some reason the WHO and CDC are not sounding the alarm nearly loud enough ..... or are they being suppressed as is the EPA ?


Anyone who has worked with RF understands this. An RDF(radio direction finder) and SN(signal to noise) instruments use the detection concept but show results rather than suck up as micro-power. WAY back in the days of active Earth orbit space exploration, one mission drug a single wire (about 1 mile in length as I recall) to measure how much power to be gleaned from the Earth's magnetic field. Results were low, still measure in milliwatts.