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See Inside January 2008

Connections to an Untethered Future

Delivering electric power through the air cuts the final cord

Although laptops, cell phones and other gadgets give us remarkable mobility, we can roam untethered only for as long as our batteries hold out. Photonics researcher Marin Soljačić of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology wants to eliminate that shackle by delivering wireless electricity, or WiTricity.

Soljačić hung a copper coil 0.6 meter (two feet) in diameter from a ceiling, then hung another coil about 2.1 meters (seven feet) away, with a 60-watt lightbulb dangling from it. When he plugged the first coil into a power source, the lightbulb on the second coil lit up. Electric current in the first coil established a magnetic field that induced current in the second one.

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