Researchers Tap Into 5G to Power IoT Devices

Georgia Tech researchers are turning 5G networks into "a wireless power grid” for running IoT devices that today need batteries to operate.

Cabe Atwell
17 days agoSensors / 5G / Internet of Things
The researchers developed a Rotman lens-based rectifying antenna capable of millimeter-wave harvesting, enabling IoT devices to tap into the over-capacity of 5G networks. (📷: Georgia Tech)

Researchers from Georgia Tech have developed a device that lets them harness the over-capacity of 5G networks to power IoT devices that otherwise rely on batteries. Typically, to utilize enough power to feed low-power devices at long ranges, a large aperture antenna is required. Only those large antennas have a narrowing field of view (FOV), limiting their operation if the antenna isn't near a 5G base station. This means trying to harvest any power to supply IoT devices in the field is almost nonexistent.

To get around that problem, the researchers developed a Rotman lens-based rectifying antenna capable of millimeter-wave harvesting at 28 GHz, with high efficiency in all directions. "With this innovation, we can have a large antenna, which works at higher frequencies and can receive power from any direction, stated Jimmy Hester, CTO of Atheraxon, a spinoff of Georgia Tech. "It's direction-agnostic, which makes it a lot more practical." The Rotman lens operates similar to an optical lens; only it provides six fields of view simultaneously in a pattern that's reminiscent of a spider web. When the shape of the lens is tuned, it provides a structure with one curvature angle on the beam-port side and another on the antenna side.

Tuning allows the system to map a set of selected radiation directions to an associated set of beam-ports, where the lens is then used as an intermediate component between the receiving antennas and rectifiers for 5G energy harvesting. The researchers demonstrated their lens and managed to achieve a 21-fold increase in harvested power over conventional antennas while maintaining identical angular coverage. The new system could be utilized for viable long-range, mm-wave 5G-powered RFID for wearable and universal IoT applications.

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