Researchers create method to harvest energy of radio waves to run wearable devices

Industry Insights

A hidden fact of energy sciences of Wi-Fi connections to microwave ovens, they are themselves sources of energy, besides permeating energy in the environment. To extract this energy, a team of researchers at the Dorothy Quiggle Career Development, Penn State Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics has developed a method that can garner energy from radio waves to run wearable devices.

The study is recently published in Materials Today Physics.

In fact, currently, energy sourced for wearable health-monitoring devices have their place to power sensor devices, but each have their setbacks. For example, solar powered health-monitoring devices can only harvest energy when they are exposed to the sun. For example, a self-powered triboelectric device can gather energy only when it is in motion.

“Meanwhile, the intent is not to replace the current power sources,” said one of the research associates. Alternately, the intent is to provide additional consistent energy.

To develop the method, the researchers created a stretchable dipole antenna system of wide band that is capable of transmitting data obtained from health-monitoring sensors. Structurally, the system comprises two stretchable metal antennas integrated on conductive graphene material with a metal coating. With the wideband design of the system, this allows to preserve its frequency functions even when it is bent, stretched, and twisted. In the next step, the system is connected to a stretchable rectifying circuit, which creates a rectified antenna that can convert energy from electromagnetic waves into electrical power. This energy can be used to charge energy storage devices or to power wireless devices such as supercapacitors and batteries.

Furthermore, interestingly, the rectified antenna can convert ambient electromagnetic or radio waves into energy to power sensing modules on the device.

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