MIT scientists hope to charge phones from Wi-Fi with a graphene device

MIT scientists hope to charge phones from Wi-Fi with a graphene device
Modern smartphones are extremely powerful and sophisticated devices. They can run several apps at once, play graphically-intensive games, and take beautiful photos. Once the battery is dead though, you’re left with just a nice-looking paperweight. Battery life and storing energy in general is one of the biggest challenges of the modern tech world, and now a team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working on an interesting solution.

The researchers explain that almost everything around us radiates low-energy terahertz waves. It’s a wave frequency between microwave and infrared, and Wi-Fi emitting gadgets or LTE/5G antennas produce some of these terahertz waves as well. Using the popular and ever-so-promising graphene material, scientists from MIT were able to make a blueprint for a device that can catch those stray electromagnetic waves and turn them into usable energy.

There are big potential implications of this technology. One example is a smartphone equipped with the graphene device which harnesses those terahertz waves and charges the battery constantly. The technology could also be used to power low-consumption modules in a smartphone, like Wi-Fi modules, 5G modems, and GPS chips directly from Wi-Fi/5G signals around us.

“This would work very much like a solar cell, except for a different frequency range, to passively collect and convert ambient energy,”
comments Liang Fu, one of the authors of the study.

There’s a lot of work to be done and the next step for the MIT team is developing a working prototype of the idea. If it makes its way to consumer electronics someday, this technology can solve some of our energy problems and cure battery anxiety for good.


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