College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Cheng Huang receives NSF CAREER award to attain omnidirectional and efficient wireless power transfer systems

Portrait of Cheng Huang.

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Harpole-Pentair Assistant Professor Cheng Huang has been selected for a 2023 National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award for his project, “Towards 3D Omnidirectional and Efficient Wireless Power.”

CAREER awards are the NSF’s most prestigious awards given to early-career faculty. The support aims to build a firm foundation for leadership in integrating research and education. Huang will receive over $500,000 to develop and execute his project over the next five years.

Huang’s project aims to attain omnidirectional and efficient wireless power transfer (WPT) systems. WPT technology, like wireless communications now dominating end-user applications, is poised to take over many of the wired power deliveries today. However, one of the significant limitations that prevents wider adoption of WPT is its rigid orientation and alignment requirements in existing implementations. Current efforts from academia and industry resulted in either 3-dimensional (3D) multi-coil structures that are too bulky for most applications or 2-dimensional (2D) planar coil arrays that only addressed misalignment issues while leaving the orientation issue unresolved.

Huang wants to address this bottleneck with new spatial calibration methodologies that can dynamically shape the magnetic field direction in real time to match the rotation and movement of the receiver device for optimum power transfer without using a bulky 3D structure.

By addressing this major challenge of WPT with different approaches considering different coupling conditions and design constraints, this project will benefit a wide range of applications, from low-power implantable or ingestible medical devices with orientation/location uncertainties inside the body to higher-power consumer electronics, without the need for careful orientation and position alignment with the wireless transmitter, revealing the full potential of wireless power technology.

The successful completion of this CAREER project will thus enable wider adoption of WPT, trigger innovations, open new trends for omnidirectional wireless-powered applications, and generate broad impacts in our society.