New wireless charging device re-energises several appliances at once

The advancement of a novel transmitter may have potentially revolutionised the future of wireless charging, facilitating the charging of multiple devices simultaneously.

The innovative wireless charging device, developed by a team of Aalto University researchers, greatly advances conventional technology that is bound to one singular device at a time, allowing for a plethora of devices to be charged concurrently, significantly reducing our daily dependence on plug sockets.

The research published in IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics was conducted by Dr Prasad Jayathurathnage, Dr Xiaojie Dang, professor Sergei Tretyakov, and Professor Constantin Simovski.

Enhancing wireless charging

Most notably, over the last decade, technology has evolved to become more portable than ever. Once bulky electronic devices such as phones and laptops have become sleeker, compact, and transportable. However, although communication devices have allowed us to stay in touch no matter our location, one limitation of their technological brilliance remains: their need to be recharged.

Our dependence on fuel for our communication devices means that mobile phones become landlines and laptops and tablets become desktop PCs, all bound to plugs and sockets, making these wireless devices, well, not wireless at all. Nevertheless, this groundbreaking advancement looks to realise the potential of wireless charging fully, allowing users to roam while using their devices as they simultaneously charge.

Currently, researchers worldwide have been investigating the prospect of free-position wireless charging, which would untether devices for fixed charge points such as plugs and charging pads. However, traditional methods of producing this type of wireless charging system incorporate complex control and detection functions, making them expensive to produce and bulky in size. Firstly, a transmitter is required to detect the presence and location of a device to emit energy in its direction – this is usually achieved through sensors or cameras – which can be pricey.

The team developed a transmitter that creates power transfer channels in all directions that automatically tunes channels when receiving devices are in motion to combat this costly issue. The new innovation means laptops, phones, and other small appliances fitted with the new receiver can simultaneously receive energy to recharge their batteries or power their functions, eliminating the need to be in physical contact with the wireless charging device or being situated in a specific place.

Prasad Jayathurathnage, a post-doctoral researcher at Aalto University, said: “What sets this transmitter apart is that its self-tuning, which means you don’t need complex electronics to connect with receivers embedded in devices. Since it self-tunes, you can also move the device freely within a wide charging range.”

Refining the device

To develop their neoteric wireless charging device, the team redesigned the transmitter’s coils; by winding the coils in a particular way, they created two types of electromagnetic fields, one going outwards and another going around. The two fields work together to combine the receiver and transmitter to obtain efficient power transfer.

The new transmitter has been demonstrated to be highly efficient at 90% at a 20 centimetres distance, with the device also working at longer distances, although efficiency does drop. The team is now working to enhance the range of the technology.

Jayathurathnage said: “For now, the maximum range at peak efficiency is dependent on the size of the transmitter and receiver.  With the right engineering, we could shrink them down.”

Safety tests for the wireless charging device will still need to be conducted before it can be produced on a commercial scale to confirm that the electromagnetic field generated is not harmful to humans. However, the potentially harmful electromagnetic field is only minimal in the technology. If deemed safe, the wireless charging device may make a plethora of time-consuming daily activities significantly more streamlined.

“True wireless charging means more personal freedom. You won’t have to worry about where you put your phone or whether you remembered to plug it in,” commented Jayathurathnage.

The team are also working on wireless charging technologies for industrial applications through the Parkzi project and have applied for a patent for their transmitter.

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