Sunday, November 28

Ericsson plans zero-energy cellular without charging for 6G

Unfortunately, the mobile phones for 6G that network equipment manufacturer Ericsson is planning to bring to market are not smartphones. That would be too nice too! Rather, the idea is to supply the Internet of Things with small devices that, for example, measure temperature and humidity and transmit this data. Nevertheless, the approach has something for itself: Taking energy from vibrations, temperature changes, light and surrounding high-frequency waves means total energetic independence. Just right for devices that are in remote locations or that are in a shipping package or container.

Air charging: a future trend?

Zero-energy devices without batteries relieve the environment

TV broadcasting systems could supply the required electricity as well as cell phone base stations or just nature with its many energetic phenomena. This is called “Energy Harvesting” in modern German and has already pushed many researchers to the limit of what is possible. Because there has always been one catch: devices have so far only been able to “harvest” tiny amounts of energy from their surroundings, so that only so-called zero-energy devices can cope with it. The big advantage, on the other hand, is that conventional batteries are no longer required for this concept and therefore there is no need to change batteries. With many hundreds of thousands or even millions of devices, this relieves the burden on the environment and saves the user a lot of time.

To do this, the devices have to become more efficient

The yield of the previous energy harvesting is a few microwatts, but the most economical transceivers to date require electricity in the milliwatt range. Ericsson is therefore not only tweaking the harvest height, but also the efficiency of its equipment. The physical transmission layer needs an upgrade, and encryption and authentication need to be more energy efficient. These unavoidable processes have so far devoured a large part of the energy.

At the moment, commercially available NB.loT devices would need several days of electricity harvest just to guarantee the encryption. In cooperation with the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), more economical security mechanisms are now to be developed, as well as new circuits that can cope with the lowest amounts of energy. Perhaps one day these developments will also have an impact on our smartphones, so that we too can harvest free energy from the air.


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