Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Harvesting energy from electromagnetic waves


In the future, clean alternatives such as harvesting energy from electromagnetic waves may help ease the world's energy shortage

For our modern, technologically-advanced society, in which technology has become the solution to a myriad of challenges, energy is critical not only for growth but also, more importantly, survival.

The metasurface used for collecting electromagnetic energy is shown.

Credit: O.Ramahi/U.Waterloo

The sun is an abundant and practically infinite source of energy, so researchers around the world are racing to create novel approaches to "harvest" clean energy from the sun or transfer that energy to other sources.

This week in the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing, researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada report a novel design for electromagnetic energy harvesting based on the "full absorption concept."

This involves the use of metamaterials that can be tailored to produce media that neither reflects nor transmits any power--enabling full absorption of incident waves at a specific range of frequencies and polarizations.

"The growing demand for electrical energy around the globe is the main factor driving our research," said Thamer Almoneef, a Ph.D. student.

"More than 80 percent of our energy today comes from burning fossil fuels, which is both harmful to our environment and unsustainable as well. In our group, we're trying to help solve the energy crisis by improving the efficiency of electromagnetic energy-harvesting systems."

Since the inception of collecting and harvesting electromagnetic energy, classical dipole patch antennas have been used. "Now, our technology introduces 'metasurfaces' that are much better energy collectors than classical antennas," explained Omar M. Ramahi, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Metasurfaces are formed by etching the surface of a material with an elegant pattern of periodic shapes. The particular dimensions of these patterns and their proximity to each other can be tuned to provide "near-unity" energy absorption. This energy is then channeled to a load through a conducting path that connects the metasurface to a ground plane.

The key significance of the researchers' work is that it demonstrates for the first time that it's possible to collect essentially all of the electromagnetic energy that falls onto a surface.

"Conventional antennas can channel electromagnetic energy to a load--but at much lower energy absorption efficiency levels," said Ramahi. "We can also channel the absorbed energy into a load, rather than having the energy dissipate in the material as was done in previous works."

As you can imagine, this work has a broad range of applications. Among the most important is space solar power, an emerging critical technology that can significantly help to address energy shortages.

It converts solar rays into microwaves--using conventional photovoltaic solar panels--and then beams the microwave's energy to microwave collector farms at designated locations on Earth. Japan is way out in front of rest of the world in this realm, with plans to begin harvesting solar power from space by 2030.

"Our research enables significantly higher energy absorption than classical antennas," Ramahi said. "This results in a significant reduction of the energy harvesting surface footprint. Real estate is a precious commodity for energy absorption--whether it's wind, hydro, solar or electromagnetic energy."

Other key applications include "wireless power transfer--directly adaptable to power remote devices such as RFID devices and tags or even remote devices in general," Ramahi noted.

The technology can also be extended to the infrared and visible spectra. "We've already extended our work into the infrared frequency regime and we hope to report very soon about near-unity absorption in those higher-frequency regimes," added Ramahi.


The article, "Metamaterial electromagnetic energy harvester with near unity efficiency," is authored by Thamer S. Almoneef and Omar M. Ramahi. It will appear in the journal Applied Physics Letters on April 14, 2015 (DOI: 10.1063/1.4916232). After that date it can be accessed at:

The authors of this paper are affiliated with the University of Waterloo.


Applied Physics Letters features concise, rapid reports on significant new findings in applied physics. The journal covers new experimental and theoretical research on applications of physics phenomena related to all branches of science, engineering, and modern technology. See:

Media Contact

Jason Socrates Bardi


Jason Socrates Bardi | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>