In what is being considered a remarkable accomplishment, Georgia Tech researchers have discovered a way to use the air around us to power gadgets such as wireless sensors, microprocessors and communications chips.
"There is a large amount of electromagnetic energy all around us, but nobody has been able to tap into it," says Manos Tentzeris, professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
The researchers say the scavenging device can be either used with other generating technologies or by itself. For instance, scavenged energy could assist a solar element to charge a battery during the day. At night, when solar cells don't provide power, scavenged energy would continue to increase the battery charge or would prevent discharging. [RELATED_ARTICLE]
The researchers are presently using inkjet printers for printing these energy-scavenging devices on paper or flexible paper-like polymers -- a technique they already using to produce sensors and antennas. Tentzeris and his team are confident that paper-based wireless sensors will be low cost, self-powered and capable of performing almost anywhere.
They further say that the device could be used for a number of applications such as airport security. According to the researchers, the airports have several sources of ambient energy such as radar and other communications sources. Another notable usage highlighted by the researchers is the material storage and quality monitoring food and perishable items. They say, “Inexpensive sensors on foods could scan for chemicals that indicate spoilage and send out an early warning if they encountered problems.”
According to the researchers, the devices can also used for chemical, biological, heat and stress sensing for defense and industry; Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging for manufacturing and shipping and so on.
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