MIT Team Demos 'WiTricity': Wireless Power Transfer

An inter-department team from MIT demonstrated wireless power transfer, considered the Holy Grail of the consumer electronics industry. The team, representing the Departments of Physics, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Science, was able to light a 60-watt light bulb wirelessly from a power source seven feet away.

The MIT team--Andre Kurs, Aristeidis Karalis, Robert Moffatt, Prof. Peter Fisher, Prof. John Joannopoulos, and Prof. Marin Soljacic--refers to the project as "WiTricity." The project was funded by the Army's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy.

"In the past, there was no great demand for such a system, so people did not have a strong motivation to look into it," Joannopoulos told the MIT press office. "Over the [last] several years, portable electronic devices, such as laptops, cell phones, iPods, and even household robots have become widespread, all of which require batteries that need to be recharged often."

As for what the future holds, Soljacic adds, "Once, when my son was about three years old, we visited his grandparents' house. They had a 20-year-old phone and my son picked up the handset, asking, 'Dad, why is this phone attached with a cord to the wall"' That is the mindset of a child growing up in a wireless world."

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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