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Wireless power tech aims to remove cable clutter

Posted: 05 Aug 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Smart Universal Power Antenna? cable clutter? antenna?

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems (ENAS) have developed 'SUPA Wireless' together with colleagues at the University of Paderborn. SUPA stands for Smart Universal Power Antenna, and the technology was designed to eliminate the need for electric cables for appliances like lamps and mobile devices such as laptops or smartphones.

The antenna simply aims to remove cable clutter. But if there are no cables and no batteries, where does the lamp get its electricity from? The principle is similar to that of an induction cooker: fitted in the table is a network of coils, each of which represents one transmitting antenna. If electricity flows through these coils, they generate a magnetic field. This in turn induces electricity into the coil fitted in the lamp, which lights up. However, the researchers were not satisfied with the lamp being supplied with electricity only at a specific point on the table: they wanted it to work anywhere on the tabletop.

Office lamps are powered cordlessly

Figure 1: Office lamps powered cordlessly. Source: Fraunhofer ENAS.

But this means that a magnetic field has to be generated wherever electricity is required, in other words, on the whole table. One solution would be to install a giant coil in the table, although this would not be very practicable.

The researchers opted for a different route: "We populate a PCB with numerous antennas in such a way that a magnetic field is generated only under the surface of the receiver. The distances between the antennas and the dimensions of them are carefully chosen to produce a homogeneous field," noted Christian Hedayat, department head at Fraunhofer ENAS in Paderborn.

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