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Wirelessly Powering IoT With 5G Network

Engineers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have come up with a new method for utilizing the power of 5G networks. Their research has led them to a technique that allows users to take advantage of the over-capacity found in 5G networks. This power can be turned into a ‘wireless power grid’ that devices in the Internet of Things can use to charge, as opposed to batteries.

The team at Georgia tech has created a Rotman lens-based rectifying antenna, or rectenna, system. This flexible rectenna system has the capacity to harvest millimeter-waves within the 28-GHz band.

Normally, large aperture antennas are necessary in order to harvest enough power to charge low-power devices from long distances. Unfortunately, these types of antennas harrow the field of view, preventing the antenna from operating should it be widely dispersed from a 5G base station. Engineers believe they’ve found a solution.

“With this innovation, we can have a large antenna, which works at higher frequencies and can receive power from any direction. It’s direction-agnostic, which makes it a lot more practical.’

Jimmy Hester, senior lab advisor and the CTO and co-founder of Atheraxon
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In comparison with previous iterations of cellular networks, 5G has been permitted to focalize power far more densely by the FCC. This gives the high-frequency network a particular ability to harvest unused power that would normally end up wasted.

The Georgia Tech team has set up a system wherein all the electromagnetic energy that is collected by the antenna arrays is fed directly into a single rectifier. This method maximizes its efficiency, and allows the antenna arrays to combine all the electromagnetic energy it receives from one direction.

The Rotman lens gives engineers six simultaneous fields of view. By tuning the shape of the lens, researchers can adjust the structure so that it is able to map radiation directions to a set of associated beam-ports. Then, the lens is used as a transition point between the rectifiers for 5G energy harvesting and the receiving antennas.

Engineers are optimistic that this new system could allow for the creation of new, passive long range mm-wave 5G-powered RFID for a variety of IoT applications. Further research is required to explore the potential of the antenna system, but it could one day spell the end of relying on batteries to charge wearable technologies and other IoT devices.

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