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MIT Scientists Show How To Light A Bulb Wirelessly

The team from MIT announced the light bulb breakthrough this week and called the concept "WiTricity," for wireless electricity.

W. David Gardner

June 8, 2007

2 Min Read

MIT scientists have been able to wirelessly light a 60-watt light bulb from a source seven feet away, and the experimenters believe it demonstrates -- at least theoretically -- that consumer electronics devices like laptops and cell phones one day could be charged without wires.

The theory isn't new -- Nicola Tesla wrote about it more than a century ago -- but with millions of electronics devices needing constant recharging, the necessity as mother of invention may finally be at hand. Even so, it likely will be years before consumers will be able to rid themselves of the electrical wires proliferating around their phones and computers.

The team from MIT's Department of Physics, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science announced the light bulb breakthrough this week. The team, led by Professor Marin Soljacic, calls the concept "WiTricity" (for wireless electricity).

The experimental design uses two self-resonant copper coils. The one attached to the power source is the sending unit. The receiving unit is designed to interact with the non-radiative field.

"The crucial advantage of using the non-radiative field lies in the fact that most of the power not picked up by the receiving coil remains bound to the vicinity of the sending unit, instead of being radiated into the environment and lost," said undergraduate team member Robert Moffat, according to MIT publication Tech Talk.

Other members of the investigating team include Aristeidis Karalis, Andre Kurs, Professor Peter Fisher, and Professor John Joannopoulos.

In spite of the excitement generated by the successful demonstration, any commercial application of wireless transmission to consumer devices isn't likely for years, MIT team members said.

The work was funded by the U.S. Army Research Office's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy.

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