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Infrared laser that can power devices 100 ft away can charge your phone when you enter a room

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Do you always forget to charge your phone? Laser technology that wirelessly emits power from 100 feet away can automatically charge your devices when you walk into a room

  • A new charging system can transfer power to devices up to 100 feet away
  • A transmitter beams infrared light to a receiver which converts it into electricity
  • The receiver can be mounted on smartphones for remote charging
  • Engineers are still working on increasing the efficiency of the system to make this possible

Waking up to find that your phone isn’t charged overnight can put a damper on the day ahead.

But what if you didn’t have to think about plugging in your devices because a laser beam did it for you automatically?

Researchers at Sejong University in North Korea have developed a new charging system that uses infrared (IR) light to transfer power to electronics up to 100 feet away.

They hope the discovery could lead to technology that automatically charges a phone as soon as it is brought into a room, including public places such as airports and supermarkets.

Research team leader and associate professor Dr. Jinyong Ha said: “The ability to power devices wirelessly would remove the need to carry power cables for our phones or tablets.

“It can also power various sensors, such as those in Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors used to monitor processes in factories.”

Researchers at Sejong University in North Korea have developed a new charging system that uses infrared (IR) light to transfer power to electronics up to 100 feet away. They hope the discovery could lead to technology that automatically charges a phone as soon as it is brought into a room

The system includes a transmitter with an optical amplifier that produces infrared light, and a receiver with a bullet lens that can pick up beams from any direction

The system includes a transmitter with an optical amplifier that produces infrared light, and a receiver with a bullet lens that can pick up beams from any direction

HOW DOES THE CHARGER WORK?

The new charger is described as a ‘distributed laser charging’ system.

This means that it consists of a transmitter and receiver.

The transmitter produces a beam of IR radiation from an optical amplifier.

This is absorbed by a photovoltaic cell on the 0.4 square inch (10 square mm) receiver, which is mounted on an electronic device.

The cell can convert the light energy into electricity to power the device, and the receiver’s spherical lens also ensures that incoming rays are captured from any direction.

While wireless charging is already a feature of many new devices, it often involves placing the device on a dock or special surface, meaning it can’t be moved far while charging.

Engineers are working to remove these necessities and make it possible to carry power over longer distances, but this often involves bulky and complex equipment.

In the study, published yesterday in Optics Express, describes a ‘distributed laser charging system’ consisting of only two sets; a transmitter and a receiver.

The transmitter produces a beam of IR radiation from an optical amplifier and can be connected to a power source in a room.

The light has a ‘safe’ central wavelength of 1550nm and passes through a filter to create a beam that, at the power used, poses no danger to human eyes or skin.

The 10 square mm receiver has a photovoltaic cell that can absorb this light and produce electricity, and can be mounted on everyday electronics.

The receiver’s spherical lens also allows it to capture incoming rays from any direction and focus on a point in the center.

This means that the transmitter does not have to track or lock the receiver.

“While most other approaches require the receiving device to be in a dedicated charging station or stationary, distributed laser charging allows for self-alignment without tracking processes as long as the transmitter and receiver are in line of sight,” said Dr. haha.

If something obstructs the line of sight between the transmitter and receiver, it automatically switches to ‘safe energy transfer mode’ and reduces the intensity of the beam.

PD: .  PV: Photovoltaic

The transmitter produces a beam of IR radiation from an optical amplifier (EDFA) that can travel to the photovoltaic cell on the receiver more than 100 feet away. PD: Photodiode (LED), PV: Photovoltaic

Effect of increasing the transmitter-receiver distance on the optical power absorbed by the receiver (black) and the electrical power to which it is transferred (red).  MPE = Maximum Allowable Exposure Limit

Effect of increasing the transmitter-receiver distance on the optical power absorbed by the receiver (black) and the electrical power to which it is transferred (red). MPE = Maximum Allowable Exposure Limit

During testing, the team was able to emit a 400 mW beam of light over a distance of 100 feet (30 m), which was converted into 85 mW of electrical power.

Realistically this would only be enough energy to power a small sensor, let alone a smartphone, but it is hoped that this can be scaled up in the future.

The team is currently working on improving the efficiency of the photovoltaic cell in the receiver so that it can convert more of the beam’s energy into electricity.

They are also interested in finding ways to charge multiple devices at once.

dr. Ha said, “Using the laser charging system to replace power cords in factories can save on maintenance and replacement costs.”

“This can be especially useful in harsh environments where electrical connections can cause interference or pose a fire hazard.”

USB-C chargers will be mandatory for all phones sold in the EU but not in the UK by 2024

Apple will have to change the connector on iPhones sold in the European Union (EU) by 2024, in line with the new regulations.

The rule, announced in June, means Apple will have to change the charging port on its iPhones in all 27 EU countries.

Currently, iPhones use Apple’s proprietary “Lightning” power connector technology, while Android devices use USB-C connectors.

The EU wants a unified charging cord for smartphones and other devices to reduce electronic waste, but Apple argues this would hinder innovation and harm consumers.

However, a UK government spokesperson has since told MailOnline: “We are not currently considering repeating this requirement.”

Northern Ireland will have to abide by the rule because of the current post-Brexit regulations, namely the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The union estimates that discarded or unused chargers account for 11,000 tons of e-waste in Europe each year.

Read more here

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