The air around us is filled with waves of electromagnetic energy produced by telecommunication networks, satellite navigation systems, radio antennas, and mobile phone networks. Now a team from Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering has developed a new device that is capable of harnessing this ambient energy and using it to power wireless sensors, computer processors, and other electronic devices. Lead researcher Manos Tentzeris and his team have used inkjet printers to create “energy-snaring” sensors and antennas on paper and flexible polymers.

Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, hi tech antenna sensors, Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering ambient energy, Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering network energy, ambient energy antenna, ambient energy sensor, telecom network energy

The team believes the technology could be used in multiple industries to draw power from thin air to help power communications devices and other electronic components. “There is a large amount of electromagnetic energy all around us, but nobody has been able to tap into it,” said Manos Tentzeris. “We are using an ultra-wideband antenna that lets us exploit a variety of signals in different frequency ranges, giving us greatly increased power-gathering capability.”

The team unveiled their research at the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Symposium in Spokane, Washington. The research was sponsored by several major organisations including the National Science Foundation, the Federal Highway Administration and Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

Any frequency ranging from 100 megahertz (MHz) to 15 gigahertz (GHz) or higher contains a significant amount of energy, so it is possible that the team’s technology could soon be used to capture energy to be storied in capacitors and batteries for future use. While the amount of energy scavenged won’t power your microwave, energy from TV transmissions could amount to hundreds of microwatts – enough to operate smaller handheld electrical devices, like your TV remote!

+ Georgia Tech

Via Science Daily