Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »


However, the near-field radiation, which stays close to the base station, contains quite a bit of energy. “If you don’t do anything with it, it just sits there,” says Pendry. “It doesn’t leak away.” This bound-up energy, which extends for a couple of meters, is extracted when a resonant receiver on a gadget comes within range.

At this point, the work is still theoretical, but the researchers have filed patents and are working to build a prototype system that might be ready within a year. Even without a prototype, though, the physics behind the concept is sound, says Freeman Dyson, professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, NJ. “It’s a nice idea and I have no reason to believe that it won’t work.”

Pendry suspects that people might be squeamish about the idea of wireless energy radiating throughout the air. “Whenever there’s powerful energy sources, people worry about safety,” he says. Depending on the application, he says, either the electric or the magnetic portion of the near-field radiation could be handy. Using the electric field would pose a health risk, and would be better employed in applications in which people aren’t nearby, he says. Conversely, using the magnetic field would be much safer and could be implemented just as easily. “I can’t think of any reason to worry [about health concerns],” he says, “but people will.”

Soljačić also suspects that the wireless power systems would be safe, based on his calculations and on the known health effects of low-frequency radio waves.

Ideally, says Soljačić, the system would be about 50 percent as efficient as plugging into an outlet, which would mean that charging a device might take longer. But the vision for this sort of wireless-energy setup, he says, is to place power hubs on the ceiling of each room in the house so that a phone or laptop can be constantly charging from any location in a home.

41 comments. Share your thoughts »

Tagged: Communications, Energy

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me
×

A Place of Inspiration

Understand the technologies that are changing business and driving the new global economy.

September 23-25, 2014
Register »