A team of researchers at the University of Sussex has made a breakthrough which can change the way how we charge our phone, laptop, and car batteries. The study revealed that the coupling between two magnetic elements could be made asymmetrical which has challenged a 156 years old law of physics. Jordi Prat-Camps said, “We have created the first device that behaves like a diode for magnetic fields.” The research shows that it is possible to make magnets connect without needing to establish a connection in the opposite direction. The study goes directly against the magnetic coupling beliefs which have been undisputed since the 19th century and emerged from four Maxwell equations which were derived from the seminal works of Micheal Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell. The equation describes all the electromagnetic phenomenon.
Prat-Camps said, “The magnetic coupling between magnets or circuits is something extremely well-known. A vast majority of the technologies we rely on today are based on magnetic coupling including motors, transformers, low-frequency antennas, and wireless power transfer devices.” The researcher believes that his team is the first one to consider if these rules can be tampered with or not. He said, “As far as we know, nobody before us thought to ask whether this symmetry could be broken and to what extent.” Researchers who are working with other kinds of metamaterials are already exploring the possibility of breaking reciprocity for light and sound waves. Therefore, Prat-Camp decided to explore the same option in the area of magnetic fields.
First, several efforts of the team were unsuccessful until the team decided to use an electrical conductor in movement. They proceeded to solve Maxwell’s equations to show that not only it can reciprocate and be broken but the coupling can also be made maximally asymmetric. The team found that the coupling from A to B will be different from zero, but from B to A it will be precisely zero. The potential of the unidirectional coupling was proven theoretically, and then the researchers found a proof-of-concept experiment which confirmed the validity of their findings. Prat-Camps believes that this breakthrough will open doors to advancements which can forever change the ability of wireless power transfer technologies and improve the recharging efficiency of everything from phones to cars.
The researcher explained, “Electric diodes are so crucial that none of the existing electronic technologies such as microchips, computers or mobile phones would be possible without them. If our result for magnetic fields would have one-millionth of the same impact as the developments in electric diodes, it would be a hugely impactful success.” Prat-Camps has focused on the manipulation of magnetic fields via the use of metamaterials for several years. The team developed new tools to control magnetism which resembles a scene out of science fiction novel. Other inventions of the researcher includes magnetic undetectability cloaks, magnetic concentrators, and wormholes as well.