Scientists create breakthrough wireless charging tech that could power electric cars in future

Futuristic electric cars could re-charge as they are being driven.

Electric cars currently can only be charged when plugged inGetty Images/Christopher Furlong

Researchers from Stanford University have created a new wireless technology to transfer electric power to any appliance even as it moves away from the source. Currently being tested on light sources the creators say the mechanism can be applied to electric cars in future.

The team built on existing technology developed in 2007 at MIT for transmitting electricity wirelessly over a distance of a few feet to a stagnant object. The breakthrough here was that electricity was successfully transferred to a moving source of light, specifically an LED light bulb from a distance of one metre.

The mechanism is a breakthrough but a lot more research needs to be done on how to transfer large amounts of power from the source to electric cars. The demonstration involved a mere 1-milliwatt charge, whereas electric cars often require tens of kilowatts to operate.

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"The hope is that you'll be able to charge your electric car while you're driving down the highway someday," says Shanhui Fan, co-author of the study.

The team says it is working on increasing the amount of electricity that can be transferred and making changes to the current mechanism to extend the transfer distance. For electric cars, a coil at the bottom of the vehicle could receive electricity from a series of coils connected to an electric current embedded in the road.

Smart way to charge electric cars

Wireless charging for electric cars could prove be the biggest impetus the industry is looking for. Plug-in electric cars already have drawbacks when it comes to their mileage and power but most consumers refrain from buying electric cars due to the unavailability of adequate charging points.

Electric vehicles from companies like Tesla and Chevrolet promise long distance trips before their charge runs out but their batteries generally take several hours to fully recharge. Charging-as-you-drive would completely change how consumers look at electric cars.

"In theory, one could drive for an unlimited amount of time without having to stop to recharge," says Fan who hopes to achieve positive results out of his research.

The full research paper on the subject was published in the scientific journal Nature.

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