Scientists at MIT report that any device that can send out a Wi-Fi signal also emits terahertz waves. These T-Rays are an electromagnetic wave with a frequency that falls between infrared light and microwaves. Almost anything that registers a temperature can produce them – including the human body.
That means terahertz waves are a pervasive part of daily life for modern humans. Theorists suggest that if we could harness them, then the concentrated power could potentially become another alternative source of energy that wouldn’t require the burning of fossil fuels.
Imagine a Smartphone that Can Self-Charge
One of the examples that the team at MIT offered is a smartphone that could charge itself. The technology to capture terahertz waves would enable the device to soak up the T-Rays passively to use as energy.
Although there isn’t a practical way right now to collect these electromagnetic waves, the MIT team does have a blueprint for a device that could lead to a process that captures and converts terahertz waves into direct-current electricity.
The design takes advantage of the quantum mechanics that graphene provides. When one combines this substance with another material, then the electrons created by the fusion skew their motion in a prevailing direction. That means the terahertz waves captured in this process would flow in a single direction – much like direct current does.
Graphene would even permit the electrons to flow without scattering off irregularities.
Researchers Discovered that DC Energy Is Possible
While researching the combination of graphene and boron nitride, the team at MIT found that the electrons are different for incoming terahertz waves in one direction. It created a skew motion that generated a harvestable DC with that action. The researchers also discovered that a more potent source of incoming T-Ray energy produces more power that the device can use.
The blueprint created for the potential terahertz collector uses a small graphene square that sits on time of a layer of boron nitride within an antenna. It creates a “sandwich” that concentrates the ambient radiation that gets produced in our world, boosting the signal enough that the T-Rays get converted to DC power.
Although the initial focus of this technology is to power handheld devices, the applications are almost endless. It could become a way to power wearable technology, generate power from physical movement, or create a remote source of energy that could be useful for interplanetary exploration.
The development of this technology is still at its early stages. If it does become a reality, then we’re likely 5-10 years away from seeing the first prototypes available on the marketplace. There could be unintended side effects that happen when harvesting T-Rays for energy, which means continued studies are also necessary.
The collection of terahertz waves will not be a complete power solution for our current needs. We must continue options like solar, wind, and geothermal to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. What this idea does offer is a solution that can help us to direct our energy needs with more specificity.