I am frustrated by my dependence on electricity. It’s not that great to decide where one sits in an airport, not on the basis of the view but on the proximity to a plug point. We’ve been keeping an eye on developments on the power front for some time, and are happy that the momentum is finally picking up.
“When wireless power is everywhere, battery life and charging rates will no longer be critical factors in mobile devices as our devices will always be charging,” Ms. Perry said.
Yi Cui, a Stanford professor who founded the start-up Amprius, is developing a way to replace the carbon anodes in lithium ion batteries with silicon. Silicon, he said, has 10 times the storage capacity of carbon, but it expands and breaks. So Mr. Cui and his team coated the silicon with polymer, a soft and stretchy substance similar to the material used in contact lenses, that spontaneously heals tiny cracks during battery operation.
Researchers at the University of Washington have also been working on a method for wireless devices to communicate without using any battery power. The technique involves harvesting energy from TV, cellular and Wi-Fi signals that are already in the air, said Shyamnath Gollakota, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering who is working on the project.
“The idea is basically you have signals around you,” Mr. Gollakota said. “So why do you have to generate new signals to communicate?”