The Pioneers Behind MEMS Technology, Bose Speakers, and 4G Networks Honored

Synopsys and Zipline innovators also receive top IEEE awards

4 min read
IEEE Medal of Honor winner Kurt Petersen at the IEEE Honors Ceremony
The innovators who IEEE honored with its highest medals at the annual ceremony held in San Diego.
Photo: IEEE

THE INSTITUTERemember when electronic components tended to be big, slow, and unreliable? The technologies pioneered by several award recipients recognized at this year’s IEEE Honors Ceremony have brought us smaller consumer electronics, more accurate medical devices, and dependable wireless communication systems. They were celebrated on 17 May at the Marriott Marquis Marina hotel in San Diego.

IEEE Life Fellow Kurt Petersen received the organization’s highest award, the IEEE Medal of Honor, for his foundational work on microelectromechanical systems. MEMS technology involves merging miniature mechanical and electromechanical elements such as sensors and actuators onto a silicon substrate along with integrated circuits. The functionality of smartphones and human-machine-interface applications depend on MEMS.

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Practical Power Beaming Gets Real

A century later, Nikola Tesla’s dream comes true

8 min read
This nighttime outdoor image, with city lights in the background, shows a narrow beam of light shining on a circular receiver that is positioned on the top of a pole.

A power-beaming system developed by PowerLight Technologies conveyed hundreds of watts of power during a 2019 demonstration at the Port of Seattle.

PowerLight Technologies
Yellow

Wires have a lot going for them when it comes to moving electric power around, but they have their drawbacks too. Who, after all, hasn’t tired of having to plug in and unplug their phone and other rechargeable gizmos? It’s a nuisance.

Wires also challenge electric utilities: These companies must take pains to boost the voltage they apply to their transmission cables to very high values to avoid dissipating most of the power along the way. And when it comes to powering public transportation, including electric trains and trams, wires need to be used in tandem with rolling or sliding contacts, which are troublesome to maintain, can spark, and in some settings will generate problematic contaminants.

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