Resonant inductive coupling or electrodynamic induction – Wireless Power – Apple also now has plans for it

Resonant inductive coupling or electrodynamic induction is the near field wireless transmission of electrical energy between two magnetically coupled coils that are part of resonant circuits tuned to resonate at the same frequency. This process occurs in a resonant transformer, an electrical component which consists of two high Q coils wound on the same core with capacitors connected across the windings to make two coupled LC circuits. Resonant transformers are widely used in radio circuits as bandpass filters, and in switching power supplies. Resonant inductive coupling is also being used in wireless power systems. Here the two LC circuits are in different devices; a transmitter coil in one device transmits electric power across an intervening space to a resonant receiver coil in another device. This technology is being developed for powering and charging portable devices such as cellphones and tablet computers at a distance, without being tethered to an outlet.

Resonant transfer works by making a coil ring with an oscillating current. This generates an oscillating magnetic field. Because the coil is highly resonant, any energy placed in the coil dies away relatively slowly over very many cycles; but if a second coil is brought near it, the coil can pick up most of the energy before it is lost, even if it is some distance away. The fields used are predominantly non-radiative, near fields (sometimes called evanescent waves), as all hardware is kept well within the 1/4 wavelength distance they radiate little energy from the transmitter to infinity.

According to a recently submitted patent application by Apple, wireless charging may be a whole new boost. That patent, which is entitled “Wireless power utilization in a local computing environment” is a system designed to exploit research in the area of mid range wireless power transfer physics. This means that the device listed in the patent is designed to use of a wireless near field magnetic resonance (NFMR) power transmission in order to power devices that are within the 1 meter range. Think wireless charging without having to be on a specialized charging mat.

Apple patents a 1-meter wireless charging system

Electricity: The flow of electrons (current) through a conductor (like a wire), or charges through the atmosphere (like lightning). A convenient way for energy to get from one place to another!

Magnetism: A fundamental force of nature, which causes certain types of materials to attract or repel each other. Permanent magnets, like the ones on your refrigerator and the earth’s magnetic field, are examples of objects having constant magnetic fields.

Oscillating magnetic fields vary with time, and can be generated by alternating current (AC) flowing on a wire. The strength, direction, and extent of magnetic fields are often represented and visualized by drawings of the magnetic field lines.

Electromagnetism: A term for the interdependence of time-varying electric and magnetic fields. For example, it turns out that an oscillating magnetic field produces an electric field and an oscillating electric field produces a magnetic field.

Magnetic Induction: A loop or coil of conductive material like copper, carrying an alternating current (AC), is a very efficient structure for generating or capturing a magnetic field. If a conductive loop is connected to an AC power source, it will generate an oscillating magnetic field in the vicinity of the loop.  A second conducting loop, brought close enough to the first, may “capture” some portion of that oscillating magnetic field, which in turn, generates or induces an electric current in the second coil. The current generated in the second coil may be used to power devices. This type of electrical power transfer from one loop or coil to another is well known and referred to as magnetic induction. Some common examples of devices based on magnetic induction are electric transformers and electric generators.

An electric transformer uses magnetic induction to transfer energy from its primary winding to its secondary winding, without connected to each other. It is used to “transform” AC current at one voltage to AC current at a different voltage.

Energy/Power Coupling:  Energy coupling occurs when an energy source has a means of transferring energy to another object. One simple example is a locomotive pulling a train car—the mechanical coupling between the two enables the locomotive to pull the train, and overcome the forces of friction and inertia that keep the train still—and, the train moves. Magnetic coupling occurs when the magnetic field of one object interacts with a second object and induces an electric current in or on that object. In this way, electric energy can be transferred from a power source to a powered device. In contrast to the example of mechanical coupling given for the train, magnetic coupling does not require any physical contact between the object generating the energy and the object receiving or capturing that energy.

Resonance: Resonance is a property that exists in many different physical systems. It can be thought of as the natural frequency at which energy can most efficiently be added to an oscillating system.

A playground swing is an example of an oscillating system involving potential energy and kinetic energy. The child swings back and forth at a rate that is determined by the length of the swing. The child can make the swing go higher if she properly coordinates her arm and leg action with the motion of the swing. The swing is oscillating at its resonant frequency and the simple movements of the child efficiently transfer energy to the system.

Two idealized resonant magnetic coils, shown in yellow. The blue and red color bands illustrate their magnetic fields. The coupling of their respective magnetic fields is indicated by the connection of the colorbands.

Another example of resonance is the way in which a singer can shatter a wine glass by singing a single loud, clear note. In this example, the wine glass is the resonant oscillating system. Sound waves traveling through the air are captured by the glass, and the sound energy is converted to mechanical vibrations of the glass itself.  When the singer hits the note that matches the resonant frequency of the glass, the glass absorbs energy, begins vibrating, and can eventually even shatter. The resonant frequency of the glass depends on the size, shape, thickness of the glass, and how much wine is in it.

Resonant Magnetic Coupling: Magnetic coupling occurs when two objects exchange energy through their varying or oscillating magnetic fields. Resonant coupling occurs when the natural frequencies of the two objects are approximately the same.

 

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