Realizing efficient wireless power transfer in the near-field region using electrically small antennas
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Non-radiative wireless power transfer using the coupled mode resonance phenomenon has been widely reported in the literature. However, the distance over which such phenomenon exists is very short when measured in terms of wavelength. In this dissertation, how efficient wireless power transfer can be realized in the radiating near-field region beyond the coupled mode resonance region is investigated. First, electrically small folded cylindrical helix (FCH) dipole antennas are designed to achieve efficient near-field power transfer. Measurements show that a 40% power transfer efficiency (PTE) can be realized at the distance of 0.25λ between two antennas in the co-linear configuration. These values come very close to the theoretical upper bound derived based on the spherical mode theory. The results also highlight the importance of antenna radiation efficiency and impedance matching in achieving efficient wireless power transfer. Second, antenna diversity is explored to further extend the range or efficiency of the power transfer. For transmitter diversity, it is found that a stable PTE region can be created when multiple transmitters are employed at sufficiently close spacing. For receiver diversity, it is found that the overall PTE can be improved as the number of the receivers is increased. Third, small directive antennas are investigated as a means of enhancing near-field wireless power transfer. Small directive antennas based on the FCH design are also implemented to enhance the PTE. It is shown that the far-field realized gain is a good surrogate for designing small directive antennas for near-field power transfer. Fourth, to examine the effects of surrounding environments on near-field coupling, an upper bound for near-field wireless power transfer is derived when a transmitter and a received are separated by a spherical material shell. The derived PTE bounds are verified using full-wave electromagnetic simulation and show good agreement for both TM mode and TE mode radiators. Using the derived theory, lossy dielectric material effects on wireless power transfer are studied. Power transfer measurements through walls are also reported and compared with the theory. Lastly, electrically small circularly polarized antennas are investigated as a means of alleviating orientation dependence in near-field wireless power transfer. An electrically small turnstile dipole antenna is designed by utilizing top loading and multiple folding. The circularly polarization characteristic of the design is first tested in the far field, before the antennas are placed in the radiating near-field region for wireless power transfer. It is shown that such circularly polarized antennas can lessen orientation dependence in near-field coupling.