In a story in the Novelties column on the New York Times, reporter Anne Eisenberg looks at work that’s being done to entirely eliminate batteries from very low-power wireless systems.
UW Electrical Engineering Professor Brian Otis explained that researchers are working on the problem from two directions, and are now starting to meet in the middle, delivering practical applications. His work is on reducing the amount of power such systems require, while others, such as UW CSE affiliate professor Joshua Smith, are working on harvesting useful amounts of power from ambient radiation.
Smith, who is a principal engineer at Intel Labs Seattle, and his research collaborators have demonstrated a system that harvests enough power from a nearby television broadcast station to run a simple wireless weather station. Says Smith, “Silicon technology has advanced to the point where even tiny amounts of energy can do useful work.”