Engineers are Now Harvesting Energy From WIFI Signals

Jacob Goings

In today’s society, the number of devices that transmit data using WiFi has increased exponentially. Because of this, the use of 2.4Ghz radio frequency (the one that WiFi uses) has increased. This leaves excess signals that can be used for things other than WiFi.

In order to do this, a research team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Tohoku University created a device that uses spin-torque oscillators (STOs) to collect these excess signals and convert them into energy.

While they were studying, the team was successfully able to harvest enough energy wirelessly to power a small LED without using a battery.

To make this work, the research team actually placed tons of these STOs on an array that they designed, and it was capable of turning the incoming 2.4 GHz radio signals into energy that they could use.

Professor Yang Hyunsoo from NUS, who led the project, says “We are surrounded by WiFi signals, but when we are not using them to access the Internet, they are inactive, and this is a huge waste…With the advent of smart homes and cities, our work could give rise to energy-efficient applications in communication, computing, and neuromorphic systems.”

To enhance the ability to harvest energy inside their technology, the researchers are trying to increase the amount of STOs on the chip that they had designed. This would let them take in more 2.4 GHz radio signals at once, thus giving them more output energy too. They are also trying to test their devices to see if they can wirelessly charge other useful electronics, like sensors.

“These sound like they could really help the world,” says Colin Hill, a junior at Lakewood High School.