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Metamaterials harnessed for beaming power

Russell Hannigan
Intellectual Ventures’ Russell Hannigan explains how a metamaterials-based reflector array antenna can focus a microwave beam on a power receiver. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Wireless power transmission has been a dream since the days of Nikola Tesla, but Intellectual Ventures is adding a twist to make it so, and make it profitable.

The twist is a little something called metamaterials, a technology that has already spawned several spin-outs from the Bellevue-based company. Russell Hannigan, senior director of business development for Intellectual Ventures’ Invention Science Fund, says a decision on how to commercialize the technology is just “a few months away.”

Right now, the company is working with a proof-of-concept setup that beams about 8 watts’ worth of microwaves across a lab space to light up an array of LED lights. But researchers expect to scale up the system to power devices at distances of 160 feet (50 meters) or more.

“Our driving application – the one that’s the most lucrative – is drones,” Hannigan said.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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