A laser beam that recharges electronic devices from 30 meters away

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Recharge your phone simply by staying in a room… practical, and soon possible. A team of researchers is currently working on a laser system capable of recharging electronic devices from thirty meters away.

Capturing data remotely has become commonplace. We receive it daily, through radio waves, wi-fi, and 4G/5G… But when it comes to receiving energy remotely, it’s a different story. A team of scientists from Sejong University in Seoul looked into this question. Their research was published in the journal Express Optics.

They are not the first to attempt this technical adventure. Indeed, many researches have been carried out on the subject, in an attempt to transmit energy by radio waves, by microwaves, or even by means of laser beams. Scientists have this time chosen to look into the potential of infrared laser rays. They succeeded in creating a system capable of transmitting energy thirty meters away.

The device is composed of two main parts: a receiver and a transmitter. The transmitter can be installed in a room. It is an optical energy source: in this case, it produces a beam of infrared light, emitted through the air. The receiver must be integrated into the device to be recharged.

Diagram of operation of the laser reloading system. © Nadeem Javed et al.

It receives this beam to initiate recharging. It is composed of a “spherical lens retroreflector”: concretely, this means that it concentrates the light received in a central point. Here, the light is converted into electricity by means of a photovoltaic cell. If the line of sight between transmitter and receiver is interrupted, the device quickly and automatically switches to a low-power mode.

A system to improve

The first tests of this device seem to have been conclusive. The team was able to transmit a 400 mW beam of light over a distance of 30 meters. The 10 x 10 mm receiver then converted this into 85 mW of electrical power… which isn’t much. The device remains, in fact, insufficient for the moment to supply an energy-intensive device, such as a smartphone. In its current state, it could only supply the equivalent of one or two small, energy-efficient sensors.

The scientists say, however, that their technology could be improved and scaled up to power larger devices such as smartphones. It would then potentially suffice to enter a room equipped with a transmitter for it to be recharged automatically.

Of course, researchers are not the only ones working on this delicate subject of remote recharging. Last December, for example, we mentioned in an article a “whisperer ray” capable of powering a drone remotely using radio waves, without significant loss of energy. The prototype of the Korean researchers, however, has some advantages. The transmitter device does not require a large layout of the room. It is also not sensitive to electromagnetic waves.

The receiver, on the other hand, has a rounded shape, which makes it possible to capture infrared radiation from any orientation. The distance at which the device works is also quite honorable. The team is currently working on improving the photovoltaic cell. The objective of the scientists is now to increase the electricity production, and to offer the possibility of recharging several devices at the same time.

Source: OpticalExpress

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