Duke researchers harvest electricity--may improve battery life, Wi-Fi

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Researchers at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering were able to put together a device to harvest energy from microwave signals into direct current voltage. The breakthrough for the team came when they succeeded in improving energy conversion to 37 percent, up from the initial 6 to 10 percent. This level of efficiency was touted as being equivalent to that of modern solar panels.

According to a report on the school's official news section, the receiver consists of fiberglass and copper energy conductors wired together on a circuit board. The team was able to convert microwaves into 7.3 volts of electricity to power an attached green LED. As a comparison, the USB interface that is now widely used to power and charge gadgets provides about 5 volts.

The Fierce Take: The technology could offer a wide variety of interesting applications such as cordless gadgets in the office, mobile phones in remote areas being powered directly from the cell phone tower, or the recovery a Wi-Fi signal that would otherwise be lost. On the flip side, it also raises the interesting prospect of how these materials could be deployed in a manner that interferes with existing wireless data transmissions, or as a means to steal power from wireless transmitters.

The full research paper can be accessed here.

For more:
- check out this article at Duke University

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