Power Sheet Provides Flexible Wireless Electricity

A power sheet consisting of plastic and flexible electronics can power electronic devices placed upon it. The prototype was designed by Takao Someya, professor of engineering at the University of Tokyo.


(Flexible power sheet)

The power sheet uses the familiar principle of electromagnetic induction, but this new design overcomes limitations of traditional systems, which spread small amounts of power over relatively large surfaces.

The power sheet system consists of two types of sheets; one sheet senses the position of an object (like a gadget) placed upon it, and the other provides power to the object's point of contact, but not to the rest of the sheet. "In this way, the system selectively feeds power as high as 30 watts to electronic objects placed upon it," Someya says.

Flexible, printed electronics provides the basis for the two sheets. An array of copper coils ten millimeters in diameter is printed on one sheet with a silkscreening-like technique; organic transistors are printed on the sheet using a modified inkjet printer.

Your favorite gadget would have to be equipped with a coil and special power-harvesting circuitry to use the power sheet. As you move the gadget closer to the pad, the electrical resistance of the pad's coils decreases. The array of transistors detects the exact position of the change in resistance and effectively directs the subsequent power flow, which is provided by devices on the second sheet of plastic.

This second power-supplying sheet has an array of switches and copper coils. The plastic and silver switches turn the electric current on and off, mediating its flow to the adjacent copper coil.

Someya states frankly that it will take about five years to overcome the remaining technical issues. His ultimate goal? To produce really big sheets, as big as your wall-to-wall carpeting or the wallpaper in your living room. The power in your house will then exist wherever you place a suitably equipped gadget; no more power outlets or power cords.

For another take on the problem of powering small devices as flexibly as possible, see the previous article Wireless Power For Laptops, Cellphones?.

Via Plastic sheet of power.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/15/2006)

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