From the New York Times: 1/11/20
In recent years, internet-connected devices have colonized a range of new frontiers — wrists, refrigerators, doorbells, cars. But to some researchers, the spread of the “internet of things” has not gone nearly far enough.
“What if we were able to embed electronics in absolutely everything,” Tomás Palacios, an electrical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said recently. “What if we did energy harvesting from solar cells inside highways, and had strain sensors embedded in tunnels and bridges to monitor the concrete? What if we could look outside and get the weather forecast in the window? Or bring electronics to my jacket to monitor my health?”
In January of 2019, Dr. Palacios and his colleagues published a paper in Nature describing an invention that would bring that future a little closer: an antenna that can absorb the ever-thickening ambient soup of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular signals and efficiently turn it into usable electrical energy.
The key to the technology is a promising material: molybdenum disulfide, or MoS₂, deposited in a layer just three atoms thick. In the world of engineering, things can’t get much thinner.