One day, we may use wireless 5G signals to provide power to electronic devices


We know that the mmWave 5G spectrum offers the fastest download data rate despite some disadvantages; these signals do not travel far and are not easily able to penetrate buildings. But what they can do is create energy that could one day replace batteries and other power sources.

According to Popular Mechanics, Georgia Tech researchers have created a conceptual wireless power grid that operates on 5G mmWave frequencies. This is done using a sticker-type device that captures the electromagnetic energy generated by the 5G base stations. Currently, this energy is used for data transmission.
Manos Tentzer, Ph.D. is a professor of flexible electronics at Georgia Tech and led a school research team that created a specialized lens to capture the power produced by mmWave 5G signals. The “rectenna” of a Rotman lens is a small device that collects energy transmitted by wireless 5G networks. But one thing that is characteristic of 5G signals makes it perfect for the power grid and that is the ability to target power.

Georgia Tech alumni Jimmy Hester will serve as a senior laboratory advisor to the team working on this development. Hester says 5G base stations operate at high frequencies so they can “focus on power.” In other words, “What we’re talking about is more about the devices’ own intentional energization by focusing the beam toward the device to turn it on and get power.”

5G signals can be utilized and used to provide wireless power

The key to this whole project is the Rotman lens, a flexible lens that helps gather energy from multiple directions. It is the same technology used in military surveillance systems that detects targets in different directions without having to move antennas. Aline Eid, Ph.D. the student and senior researcher say, “In the same way that a camera lens collects everything [light] waves from any direction, and connects it to one point … to create an image, just like that [this] the lens works. The lens is like a tarantula … because the tarantula has six eyes, and our system can also look in six different directions. “

With the Rotman lens, the field of view of the energy-collecting “sticker” device increases from a 20-degree “pen beam” to 120 degrees. This facilitates the collection of mmWave energy in the 28 GHz band. Eid says that if you place a sticker on drones, you will be able to collect energy from 5G base stations around the city.

Still, this system is in its infancy, and currently straight-line labels can collect only 6 microtons of energy, enough to start small IoT devices from a distance of 180 meters (590.55 feet). In laboratory tests, the device has been able to collect 21 times the amount.

Tentzeris says his team is looking for funding and is particularly interested in working with wireless operators. In this way, wireless service providers can place labels in cities at the same time as they build their 5G networks. Manos adds: “In the early 2000s, companies moved from speech to data. Now, using this technology, they can also add power to data / communication.”

Looking to the future, a rectangular sticker may end up embedded in wearable or sewn clothing. Regarding the economics of label making, Tentzeris notes that each unit costs only a few cents, which means that money does not necessarily prevent this from becoming a legal method of power distribution.

A Georgia Tech professor says, “Scalability was very important, you’re talking about billions of devices. You may have a great prototype working in a lab, but when someone asks, ‘Can everyone use it?’ “You have to be able to say yes.”

Maybe one day in the future, 5G signals will give your phone the power it needs to run all day every day, in addition to the connection that these signals convey.


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