Planning Grant: Engineering Research Center for Wireless Power (WiPOWER) for a Cordless World

Project: Research project

Project Details

Description

The Planning Grants for Engineering Research Centers competition was run as a pilot solicitation within the ERC program. Planning grants are not required as part of the full ERC competition, but intended to build capacity among teams to plan for convergent, center-scale engineering research.

The overarching vision of the WiPOWER ERC is to create a 'Cordless World' by providing static and dynamic power charging technologies for transportation vehicles, devices in homes and hospitals, and devices on/in the human body. Research thrusts within the center will investigate foundational technologies required for wireless, tether-free power for daily use devices. Recent advances accomplished in tunable electronic design offer the opportunity to develop wireless power transfer (WPT) topologies with the potential to meet the necessary efficiency, power, function and distance requirements for widespread implementation. These advances include tunable passive elements (e.g., capacitors, transformers, and inductors), metamaterial based enhanced coupling and routing of wireless power, broad bandwidth current sensors and circuit architectures that exploit tunability, as well as high-efficiency active components (switches, filters). Utilizing these tunable electronics based topologies, wearable devices and sensors (such as a blood glucose monitor and an insulin pump) can be powered through RF wireless power transmission when the wearer is inside a house/hospital or in its vicinity. The team will investigate approaches such as a phase array to direct the power-carrying RF beam toward one or multiple wearable devices/sensors. Common electronic devices in the home and offices will be able to operate without cords and plugs. The proposed wireless power infrastructure will also enable the coming electric and autonomous vehicle revolution by providing parked charging and dynamic moving charging technology that meet the high efficiency, safety and reliability requirements. The workshops organized during the planning phase will consider how to best coordinate with the industrial, educational and entrepreneurial community on integrating WPT technology to serve the community at large. The WiPOWER ERC planning team will engage with broader impacts stakeholders during the workshops to develop diversity and inclusion plan, technology roadmaps and workforce development for the center. Planning phase will leverage that experience by including representatives from the participating institutions broader impacts community and beyond. The workshops organized during the planning phase will consider how to best coordinate with the industrial, educational and entrepreneurial community on integrating WPT technology to serve the community at large. The WiPOWER ERC planning team will engage with broader impacts stakeholders during the workshops to develop strategic objectives and milestones for the center.

Combination of active and passive components operating at different power levels are required in order to implement WPT systems. Each component has its own set of performance metrics, operational guidelines, testing standard and pricing strategy. Complete understanding of these variables for all the components needed for WPT systems is an essential part of the investigations to be conducted during the planning phase. Reliability and accelerated lifetime testing protocols will be established to ensure robust deployment in dynamic charging conditions. During the planning phase, the goal will be to utilize workshops, industrial visits, conference calls, and exchange programs to develop a consistent summary of the current technology status, technology barriers, intellectual property, industrial roadmaps, regulations and standards, and commercialization partners. One of the emphasis areas in this investigation will be passive components with added-tunability that have adaptability to different circuit operating conditions. Tunable capacitors and inductors will help a critical challenge in WPT - the loss of received power as the gap between transmitting and receiving coils/plates increases or the coils/plates are misaligned. In addition to low-loss tunable passive components, state-of-the-art in the area of high-efficiency power transmitter and receiver active components will be investigated to achieve cost-effective high-efficiency WPT. Advanced circuit designs using wide bandgap semiconductors, such as GaN and SiC, will be identified through extensive interactions with industry partners. Commercialization pathways for ultra-low power applications requiring specialized low-power IC designs in SOI and in CMOS will be identified and incorporated in the targeted testbeds. High power, efficient, and long-life battery systems integrated with WPT will be identified to provide opportunities to bridge the gaps between charging events. Together these investigations will advance an ERC designed to support the foundational requirements around research, engineering workforce development, diversity and a culture of inclusion, and an innovation ecosystem.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

StatusActive
Effective start/end date9/1/186/30/22

Funding

  • National Science Foundation: $100,000.00

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