5G: mm-wave signals could power self-charging IoT devices

Scientists at Georgia Tech have developed an antenna that can translate millimeter-wave 5G signals into usable electrical power.

A 3D-printed antenna could turn high-frequency 5G signals into a wireless power source, potentially eliminating the need for batteries in low-power IoT devices, according to researchers at Georgia Tech.

The antenna, which the researchers call a mm-wave harvester, is about the size of a playing card and has visible circuitry printed on it. It uses a technology called a Rotman lens as a waveguide to focus multiple beams of millimeter-wave electromagnetic radiation used in 5G into a coherent whole.

The technology was previously best known as a component of phased-array radar systems, allowing it to see targets in multiple directions without physically moving the antenna system. It was invented in the 1960s by US Air Force and MIT researcher Walter Rotman.

“People have attempted to do energy harvesting at high frequencies like 24 or 35GHz before,” said Aline Eid, a senior researcher a Georgia Tech’s ATHENA lab in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The shortcoming of the previous iterations was it only worked if the lens was oriented directly toward the transmitter. That made it difficult to position correctly and ruled out using it if the device it was powering moved around.

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