Scientists have demonstrated a simple way to transmit electricity through the air, raising the prospect of a world of wireless gadgets.
In the experiment, researchers lit a 60-watt light bulb from an energy source 7ft away using no power leads.
The research heralds a future in which mobile phones, MP3 players, laptop computers, and other appliances can be charged up without having to plug them into a wall socket.
Some devices may even be able to operate without batteries at all.
The concept of ‘WiTricity’, as the scientists have dubbed the technology, is not new.
At the start of the 20th century, the American inventor Nikola Tesla dreamed of wireless power and conducted experiments showing how it could be done.
However, the huge coils he used to generate electromagnetic fields only managed a very low level of power transfer.
The new approach described today in the journal Science relies on 2 coils joined by a resonating magnetic field.
The energy-transfer system was more than powerful enough to run a laptop over room-sized distances.
Professor Peter Fisher, who helped to conduct the research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, US, said: ‘As long as the laptop is in a room equipped with a source of such wireless power, it would charge automatically, without having to be plugged in. In fact, it would not even need a battery to operate inside of such a room.’
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