Assistant Professor Daniel Costinett wants you to lose the charger.
Whether you’re reading this on a laptop, desktop, or phone, odds are your device has recently been held captive by a wall outlet for charging. That may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to the work of the University of Tennessee’s Daniel Costinett, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Costinett’s primary research area is power electronics: the study and design of circuits for energy devices. “Power electronics is everywhere you look, in anything energy-powered, or anything smart or with a display,” explained Costinett. This ubiquity and its potential for innovation hooked him on the subject as a doctoral student at the University of Colorado Boulder. He joined UT in 2013 after earning his PhD in Electrical Engineering.
Now he’s at work on a technology to unlock wireless power transfers for consumer electronics. Just as WiFi replaced plugged-in dial-up internet, Costinett is developing ways to enable laptops, tablets, phones, and other consumer electronics to charge wirelessly, ditching the cord and wall outlet. The key is a new approach to the design of the coil that carries the current: the new structure allows the coil to be smaller, more efficient, and hold far less radiation. As current moves through the coil, it produces a magnetic field that can pass through space and materials to transfer energy.