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by Rena Fulgencio

A team of scientists from MIT is attempting to transfer energy wirelessly with a method called evanescent coupling. So, what does this mean for consumers?

Well, within a limited range, it could allow electronic gadgets, such as laptops, cell phones, and PDAs to start charging themselves as soon as their owner walks into any room. Consumers may not have to worry about batteries dying because they forgot to charge up.

How it works: First, an electrical current runs through a coil and the current is going round, this creates an electromagnetic field that resonates outward around the coil in a low-energy form. When a device of compatible resonating frequency is within range, it absorbs that energy, therefore, charging itself. Finally, the emitter reabsorbs most of the energy that is not absorbed by the receiver.

“ Whenever there’s powerful energy sources, people worry about safety,” John Pendry, professor of physics at Imperial College, in London said in an interview with Technology Review. According to him, either the electric or the magnetic portion of the near-field radiation could be utilized depending on the application. Using the electric field would pose a health risk, and would be better employed in applications in which people aren’t nearby, said Pendry. Using the magnetic field would be safer and could be implemented just as easily. “I can’t think of any reason to worry [about health concerns], but people will,” he said.

If this were to work for small, mobile devices, couldn’t it work on a larger scale for electrical cars in the future? Transmitters could be placed in the roads and the electric cars could be charging themselves as it is being driven. Evanescent coupling might well be the solution to lessening our dependence on fossil fuels and help curb the depletion of the earth’s ozone layer in the near future.



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