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Future warfighters will be able to charge their electronic devices without batteries or cords, thanks to a revolutionary material. A game-changing study led by a US army-MIT team describes an antenna that can absorb Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular signals and efficiently turn it into usable electrical energy.
The research team was led by Professor Tomás Palacios at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dr. Madan Dubey, a research physical scientist at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory.
“Today, Wi-Fi is becoming increasingly omnipresent in both indoor and outdoor environments and provides an abundant source of always-on radiofrequency energy,” Dubey said. “What’s missing is an efficient, flexible and always-on energy-harvesting solution to power devices, which is indispensable for self-powered systems. We have discovered a way to potentially fill this gap and to make it useful for Soldiers on the battlefield.”
An atomically thin layer of material will generate power without any power cords using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and millimeter-wave that is used in some 5G wireless communication systems. “It has the potential to revolutionize Soldier’s situational awareness and readiness as these materials and devices can be integrated into health and monitoring systems, displays, communication and sensing systems for the Soldier,” Dubey said, according to army-recognition.com.
A new revolutionary material, molybdenum-di-sulfide, or MoS2, which is only a few atoms thick is at the heart of the technology. Its extreme thinness allows the electronics systems made out of it to be transparent, and only become visible when designed for displaying information.
The development “will enable a transparent, flexible/conformal, self-powered, atomically thin system-on-chip embedded in a smart textile that has never been realized before,” Dubey said. “These future systems will feature micron size, light-weight, optical transparency and state-of-the-art transistors and sensors to provide the soldier with real-time information, prepare for planning/action and security in all-terrain. If the team’s radio wave-absorber succeeds, it will power those ever-present electronics 24/7, no battery needed.”
The technology will play a major role in the Multi-Domain battlefield as it “will enable higher Soldier lethality, improve cognitive neuroscience and the novel engineered materials required for Next-Generation Combat Vehicle.”
According to Dubey, this technology is a key building block to create, for example, an Alexa-like device that is 1,000 times smaller in size, but much more powerful in performance, while being flexible and conformable to meet mission requirements.
According to armyrecognition.com, the demonstrated energy harvester will have a huge impact in future systems and is one of the several components that the MIT-Army team is jointly developing to transform the electronic microsystems that provide situational awareness and intelligence to the soldier.
The work was published in the journal Nature.