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Industry Highlight

MRSEC-supported research leads to an electrifying start-up

Authors: Marin Soljacic,
John Joannopoulos

In June of 2007, it was reported that Professors Soljacic and Joannopoulos of the current IRG-III, and MRSEC-supported graduate student Aristeidis Karalis (now an MIT postdoc) were part of a team that demonstrated omni-directional, wireless transfer of power on the order of 60W over distances greater than 7 feet, with efficiency of roughly 50%, confirming the predictions of an earlier theoretical paper. Both the theoretical paper (Science, 2007) and the experimental research (Annals of Physics, 2008) were partially funded by the MRSEC program.

The hope was that the power transfer scheme proposed, dubbed “WiTricity,” could be used for wireless charging of autonomous electronic devices (e.g. laptops, cell-phones, iPods). A company was launched to pursue this vision.

Over the past year, WiTricity Corporation has grown into a active company and received a significant amount of national and international press coverage. Their emerging technology is designed for original equipment manufacturers to embed directly in their products and systems. WiTricity can be used to provide direct wireless power and automatic wireless charging for consumer electronics, industrial equipment, existing electric transport vehicles. Other possible applications include implantable medical devices and high-tech military systems. The primary author of this work, Prof. Soljacic is a co-leader of our new Nanostructured Fibers IRG, and is Board Member and Founder of WiTricity Corporation.

"Wireless power transfer via strongly coupled magnetic resonances." A. Kurs, A. Karalis, R. Moffatt, J.D.Joannopoulos, P.Fisher and M. Soljacic. Science 317 (5834) 83-86 (2007).

"Efficient wireless non-radiative mid-range energy transfer." A. Karalis, J.D. Joannopoulos and M. Soljacic. Annals of Physics 323(1), 34-48 (2008).

The research was partially funded by the NSF MRSEC Program (award DMR 02-13282).

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