Your next laptop charger: from ‘truck to Tesla’

Home Technologist Online Your next laptop charger: from ‘truck to Tesla’

Portable computers will soon be able to do away with the power supply transformer – today the heaviest accessory in your laptop bag.

Image of a LED power supply and a much smaller prototype

Using a completely new technology, researchers from Technical University of Denmark (DTU) have created power supplies so small that they can soon be integrated into a wire or an LED bulb fitting, which means these too can be made significantly smaller.

The man heading up the project is Arnold Knott, an associate professor in electrical engineering. Together with a group of students, he has developed a technology that fundamentally changes the way power supplies work.

“We have made them work faster so that instead of sending huge energy packages through the system we are now able to send smaller ones. It’s a bit like comparing a truck to a Ferrari – the Ferrari needs to make several return trips, but runs much faster and is much smaller than the truck,” Knott explains.

Arnold-Knott

Arnold Knott and his team are convinced they can eliminate the need for bulky power units in laptop computers.

He and his team have succeeded in increasing the frequency in the power supplies by a factor of 1,000 –and this is only the beginning, he says.

In addition to the obvious size advantage, enabling consumers to enjoy products of minimal weight and size, the new power supplies also benefit the environment. They are less reliant on rare earth elements that are often costly and subject to political sensitivity, as they are found in countries that ignore human rights and environmental considerations.

“And the smaller the power supplies, the fewer materials they use. So perhaps it’s better to compare them to a Tesla rather than a Ferrari,” Knott says with a wry smile.

The development of the power supplies has been so successful that it has led to a business start-up. Launched in September 2014, Nordic Power Converters was founded by some of Knotts’ students, including Mickey Madsen.

“We had an invention we knew there was a market for – one that is big and experiencing rapid growth, which is why we felt there was a basis for creating a business. Our power converters have been tested by one of the world’s leading LED manufacturers, and we have received a lot of positive feedback,” says Madsen. While establishing Nordic Power Converters, he is also busy with his PhD studies, focussing on the very same miniature power supplies.

“The industry has responded extremely positively and the same can be said of the investors and business angels we have spoken with. It is very exciting to create something yourself and be responsible for the company – but the most important thing is to see the technology coming onto the market instead of just staying in the lab,” says the young entrepreneur.

– Source: article by Bertel Henning Jensen in DTU News

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