Scientists charge Nokia phone with lightning

CC BY 3.0 Bruce Guenter

While most of us still depend on our charging cords, the trend of wireless charging for portable devices is picking up, and a recent experiment by Nokia and the University of Southampton hints at one possible direction, using an unexpected power source.

Using simulated lightning, the team working on this proof-of-concept experiment was able to successfully charge a Nokia Lumia 925 in just seconds.

"Using an alternating current, driven by a transformer, over 200,000 volts was sent across a 300mm gap – giving heat and light similar to that of a lightning bolt. The signal was then stepped into a second controlling transformer, allowing us to charge the phone. " - Neil Palmer, University of Southampton High Voltage Lab

"We were amazed to see that the Nokia circuitry somehow stabilized the noisy signal, allowing the battery to be charged. This discovery proves devices can be charged with a current that passes through the air, and is a huge step towards understanding a natural power like lightning and harnessing its energy." - Palmer

Don't look for lightning charging stations anytime soon, as this project is more about jumpstarting new ideas and methods for charging devices than it is about producing a lightning-charged cellphone.

The experiment took place in a controlled laboratory, under the supervision of trained scientists, and isn't something that ought to be attempted by laymen. As they say, "Don't try this at home, folks."

Scientists charge Nokia phone with lightning
While you probably shouldn't go out in a thunderstorm and hold your phone up to the sky just yet, this experiment hints at the future of wireless charging.

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