Wireless Solar Charging Made Easier

Using the same technology to build solar cells and the circuits that transmit their power could lead to cheap charging stations

3 min read
Wireless Solar Charging Made Easier

solarcharge01

Image: Warren Rieutort-Louis
Cordless Charging: Oscillators built on plastic  [inset] take power from two solar cells to wirelessly charge portable devices. Click on image to enlarge.

19 June 2012—Anybody with a smartphone dreads the low-battery warning that initiates a mad search for an electrical outlet. But engineers at Princeton University are developing technology that could lead to widespread wireless charging stations for all our electronics. Along the way, this technology could also help build better sensors to monitor the health of both humans and buildings.

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How to Prevent Blackouts by Packetizing the Power Grid

The rules of the Internet can also balance electricity supply and demand

13 min read
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How to Prevent Blackouts by Packetizing the Power Grid
Dan Page
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Bad things happen when demand outstrips supply. We learned that lesson too well at the start of the pandemic, when demand for toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, masks, and ventilators outstripped the available supply. Today, chip shortages continue to disrupt the consumer electronics, automobile, and other sectors. Clearly, balancing the supply and demand of goods is critical for a stable, normal, functional society.

That need for balance is true of electric power grids, too. We got a heartrending reminder of this fact in February 2021, when Texas experienced an unprecedented and deadly winter freeze. Spiking demand for electric heat collided with supply problems created by frozen natural-gas equipment and below-average wind-power production. The resulting imbalance left more than 2 million households without power for days, caused at least 210 deaths, and led to economic losses of up to US $130 billion.

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