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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER ELECTRONICS, VOL. 30, NO.

3, MARCH 2015

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A Fast Method for Generating Time-Varying


Magnetic Field Patterns of Mid-Range Wireless
Power Transfer Systems
Cheng Zhang, Wenxing Zhong, Member, IEEE, Xun Liu, Senior Member, IEEE, and S. Y. Ron Hui, Fellow, IEEE

AbstractVisualizing the magnetic flux paths for wireless power


transfer systems enables researchers and engineers to understand
the operations and design the geometrical dimensions of the practical systems. However, time-domain transient simulations of 3-D
electromagnetic fields of complex wireless power transfer systems
with multiple coil-resonators are extremely time-consuming. This
paper describes a fast hybrid approach that combines the timedomain coupled circuit modeling and the magnetostatic analysis
to form a fast time-domain analytical tool for studying complex
wireless power transfer systems. The proposed methodology has
been successfully applied to several wireless domino-resonator systems. For the first time, the time-varying magnetic flux variations
of wireless power domino-resonator systems can be visualized in
computer simulations.
Index TermsElectromagnetic field solver, wireless power
transfer.

I. INTRODUCTION
ID-RANGE wireless power transfer systems with multiple coil-resonators have recently been investigated for
their capability of transferring energy with relative high power
and their flexibility of physical dimensions and positions of the
coils [1][6]. So far, their analyses rely on coupled circuit models, which however do not provide any information about the
time-varying magnetic flux paths and visual information of the
spatial magnetic flux interactions of various coil-resonators and
the loads. Commercial software such as Ansoft Maxwell can
perform transient analysis and magnetostatic analysis for the
system with given dimensions of the coils as well as the series capacitance and resistance of the resonator circuits [7]. If
high precision is required, however, the transient analysis based
on the Maxwell 3-D finite-element (FE) electromagnetic (EM)

Manuscript received November 20, 2013; revised February 7, 2014 and April
7, 2014; accepted April 7, 2014. Date of publication April 10, 2014; date of
current version October 15, 2014. This work was supported by the General
Research Fund of the Hong Kong Research Grant Council under Project HKU
712913. Recommended for publication by Associate Editor C. T. Rim.
C. Zhang and W. Zhong are with the Department of Electrical and Electronic
Engineering, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong (e-mail:
czhang@eee.hku.hk; wenxingzhong@gmail.com).
X. Liu is with ConvenientPower (HK), Ltd., Shatin, Hong Kong (e-mail:
xun.liu@convenientpower.com).
S. Y. R. Hui is with the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, U.K., and also with the
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, The University of Hong
Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong (e-mail: ronhui@eee.hku.hk).
Color versions of one or more of the figures in this paper are available online
at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TPEL.2014.2316526

Fig. 1. Coupled circuit model of a wireless power system with n coilresonators.

solver is extremely time-consuming and substantial computational resources are required. Taking a wireless power system
with seven resonator-coils as an example and assuming that a
desktop personal computer is used, the simulation time from the
start-up to the steady-state operation could take over 20 h, without guarantee of convergence, to reach reasonable solutions.
When more resonator coils are used in the wireless power system, the longer it will take to reach final steady-state solution of
the whole system.
In this paper, a time-efficient method is proposed as a simulation tool to study complex wireless power systems. The proposed method combines the uses of coupled circuit model and
the Magnetostatic Analysis of the FE software to obtain fast solutions and magnetic field plots at various points in time within
an excitation cycle. With known system parameters, the coupled
circuit model allows the steady-state solutions to be obtained at
different angles within an ac excitation cycle. Therefore, the
long transient analysis period required by the FE software can
be bypassed using the coupled circuit model. The steady-state
solutions obtained from the coupled circuit model are used by
the Magnetostatic Analysis software (which is also part of the
Ansoft Maxwell software package) to obtain the steady-state
3-D magnetic field plots at different points within an excitation
cycle. Then, the successive magnetic field plots can be displayed
in a time sequence to provide the visual information of the timevarying magnetic field in the wireless power transfer systems.
This approach is demonstrated in computer studies of straight,
circular and Y-shaped wireless power domino-resonator systems [4][6]. In principle, it can be applied to study any wireless
power transfer systems.
II. MODEL AND METHODOLOGY
Fig. 1 shows the lumped circuit model of a domino-resonator
system with n resonators. Its circuit equation is expressed with

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER ELECTRONICS, VOL. 30, NO. 3, MARCH 2015

Fig. 2.

Step 4: Calculation of the coil currents. The values of the


operating frequency, inductance, resistance, and capacitance can
be put into (1), which can then be solved to get the values of the
currents.
Step 5: Magnetic flux calculation and plots. At each time
instant, the magnitude of the currents can be calculated and
used in a magnetostatic analysis to produce the magnetic field
pattern of the system. By repeating this step at different points
in time within each excitation cycle, the magnetic field patterns
at the successive points of a cycle can be obtained. Thus, the
magnetic flux variation can be displayed in the time sequence
to form a time-domain animation of the magnetic behavior of a
wireless power transfer system.

Circuit model of resonator-u in a domino-resonator system.

(1). Here, as shown in Fig. 2, the self-inductance of the uth


coil is denoted by Lu and the mutual inductance between the
uth and vth coils is denoted by Mu v . The ac resistance of the
resonator is Ru . The capacitance in the uth resonator is denoted
by Cu and the voltage source and the current are denoted by VSu
and Iu , respectively.
The currents of all the resonators (I 1 to I n ) can be calculated,
provided that the system parameters in (1) are known or can be
obtained by calculation [9], [10], [12][15] or measurement.
The currents can be used in a static magnetic analysis to plot the
magnetic field pattern of the entire system for a particular point
in time. Then, successive magnetic flux plots can be obtained
over a period of time. This approach will take much less time
in comparison with transient analysis and can be implemented
in personal computers. The flowchart of the proposed method is
given in Fig. 3.
The procedures of the proposed methodology are explained
as follows:
Step 1: Determination of the operating frequency of the system. The operating frequency of the system should first be decided according to the practical requirements such as the resonance frequency of the resonators including their cross-coupling
effects [3], the power level of the wireless power transfer system,
the power losses and energy efficiencies of switching devices
and the overall system, and other EM compatibility issues.
Step 2: Determination of the physical dimensions and relative
positions of the windings (L, M, R). Once the diameter of the
wires cross section, the shape and the size of the winding,
and the number of turns are determined, the self-inductance
of the windings and the mutual inductance between every two
windings can be calculated with analytical equations or with FE
Analysis [7]. Analytical equations suitable for the calculation of
the self-inductance and the mutual inductance for coaxial and
noncoaxial circular coils can be found in [8].
Step 3: Determination of the values of the compensating capacitors. The capacitance values are chosen to match the best
operating situation, based on either the maximum power transfer
or maximum power efficiency principle [11]. Numerical optimization tool could be used to get the optimum values for the
capacitors.

R1 + jX1
jM
12

..

jM
1(n 1)

jM1n
where Xu =Lu 1/(Cu ).

jM12
R2 + jX2
..
.

jM13
jM23
..
.

..
.

Rn 1

III. VERIFICATION AND SIMULATION RESULTS


A. Implementation Issues of FE Transient Analysis
for High-Frequency Wireless Power Transfer Systems
For the transient analysis, the 3-D FE Transient Analysis
software (which is another module of the Ansoft Maxwell FE
software package) is employed in this study. For the proposed
hybrid approach, the 3-D FE Magnetostatic Software (which is
a module of the Ansoft Maxwell FE software package) is used
with the coupled circuit model equation (1). The advantage of
using the coupled circuit model is that it can determine the
steady-state solutions quickly and accurately. This feature has
been demonstrated in [5] for modeling wireless power transfer system with multiple resonators. Fig. 4 shows a wireless
power transfer system with three resonators. Typical measured
current waveforms and simulated current waveforms obtained
from the coupled circuit model are shown in Fig. 5. It is clear that
the coupled circuit model is a fast and accurate tool to predict
the steady-state solutions for a wireless power transfer system,
because solving a 3 3 matrix equation for 2050 sampled
points within an excitation cycle takes less than a few seconds
in a personal computer.
In order to highlight the time-consuming and inaccuracy issues of the 3-D FE Transient Analysis, a two-coil system (i.e.,
the simplest form of a wireless power transfer system) is adopted
as an example. Using the Ansoft Maxwell package, Table I
shows two sets of 3-D Transient Analysis results (based on two
different time steps). The load resistance R2 is set at 1 . An
ac voltage source of 1 V at 550 kHz is used to drive the transmitter coil. For each set of results, the plots of the magnetic
field contour surfaces (or simply called magnetic field patterns
hereafter) are generated at several angular positions in a sequential manner within one excitation cycle of 550 kHz. (The phases

..
.
+ jXn 1

jM(n 1)n

jM1n

I1
VS 1
jM2n
I 2 VS 2

..
..
..

.
.
.
=

In 1
VS (n 1)
jM(n 1)n

In
VS n
R + jX
n

(1)

ZHANG et al.: A FAST METHOD FOR GENERATING TIME-VARYING MAGNETIC FIELD PATTERNS OF MID-RANGE WIRELESS POWER

Fig. 3.

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Flowchart of the proposed methodology for the domino-resonator systems design.

for the six graphs are captured at 0 , 36 , 72 , 108 , 144 , and


180 approximately of the transmitter current waveform.) The
plots displayed in the same row in Table I are captured at the
same angular position. It is noted from the results in the two
columns that the accuracy of the Transient Analysis greatly depends on the step size of the simulation. When compared with
the steady-state currents obtained from the coupled circuit equation, the transient solutions are not accurate even after 90 min
of simulation with 181 steps per period (i.e., 0.01 s time step
while the operating frequency is 550 kHz). When the time step
is reduced to 0.001 s, the expected simulation would become
900 min (or 15 h). However, the transient analysis program
failed to complete after running for about 10 h. This illustrates
the inaccuracy and time-consuming issues of the 3-D Transient
Analysis even for a simple wireless power system.
The proposed methodology has been applied to the 1) straight;
2) circular; and 3) Y-shaped wireless power domino-resonator

systems. Details of these systems can be obtained in [4][6].


The magnetic field pattern can be presented in the vector form
or contour form. For clear visualization in a computer screen,
the outer surface of the contours can be displayed in the time
sequence of the magnetic field plots. Since the contours only
indicate the density of the flux lines and not the direction of
the flux lines, the magnetic flux plots within the first half of the
ac excitation cycle are needed. The time-varying magnetic flux
variation in the second half of the cycle can be reconstructed
based on the magnetic flux plots of the first half-cycle.
For this computer simulation study, the windings of the coilresonators are identical. However, it should be stressed that the
proposed approach is not restricted to identical coil-resonators
because the coupled circuit equation (1), the analytical equations [8], and the FE method can deal with both identical and
nonidentical coils. Each circular winding consists of 11 turns
with a coil diameter of 30 cm, a winding width of 2 cm, and a

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER ELECTRONICS, VOL. 30, NO. 3, MARCH 2015

TABLE I
TIME-STEP DEPENDENT RESULTS OF THE 3-D TRANSIENT ANALYSIS

Fig. 4.

Practical three-resonator domino-system [5].

Fig. 5. Measured (upper) and simulated (lower) current waveforms of an


equally-spaced three-resonator system (1 A/div.; 500 ns/div.) [5].

winding thickness of 1.5 mm. Each coil is connected in series


with a capacitor of 1 nF. The first coil in each system is connected with the ac power source and is used as the transmitter
coil.
When compared with the Transient Analysis method of the FE
EM field solver, the proposed method is more time efficient. For
a transient analysis of a wireless power system with seven coils,
it takes more than 10 h for the 3-D Transient Analysis solver
in Ansoft Maxwell to obtain a solution in personal computer if
the time step is set at 1/100 of the operating period with 1000
fragments for each coil. If more accurate results are needed,
the time steps should be smaller and the number of fragments
should be larger, meaning that much longer time will be needed.
The proposed method, however, takes about 10 min for plotting
the magnetic flux for one particular time point in the period on
a desktop computer.
B. Simulation and Observation
1) Straight Domino System: The straight domino system under consideration consists of three resonators as shown in Fig. 6.
The three resonators are placed in a straight line with the dis-

Fig. 6. Three-resonator system with total transmission distance of 0.6 m.


(Resonator-1 is excited as the transmitter coil and resonator-3 is connected to
loads.)

tance between the first (transmitter) coil and the last (receiver)
coil being 0.6 m. The coil parameters are tabulated in Table II.
The operating frequency equals to the resonant frequency of the
resonators. It is reported in [5] that the optimal efficiency operation of a straight domino system with three resonators depends

ZHANG et al.: A FAST METHOD FOR GENERATING TIME-VARYING MAGNETIC FIELD PATTERNS OF MID-RANGE WIRELESS POWER

TABLE II
PARAMETERS OF THE PRACTICAL RESONATORS

on: 1) the position of the relay resonator; and 2) the value of


the load resistance. The magnetic field patterns of the system
with a light load (i.e., a small load resistance of 1 and a load
current of 1 A) are shown in Table III, while those for a heavy
load (i.e., a large load resistance of 75 and a load current of
1 A) are shown in Table IV. Under both load conditions, the
effects of the position of the second (relay) resonator on the
energy efficiency are also considered. The load current I3 is
used as the reference for the angular position. Visualization of
the time-varying expansion and contraction of the magnetic flux
contours in the time sequence indicates that wireless power flow
from the transmitter coil to the receiver coil looks like a heart
pumping blood through a blood vessel.
It is important to note that the volume (size) of the magnetic field pattern is proportional to the current magnitude and
is related to the conduction loss in the coil. Therefore, visualization of these magnetic field patterns can provide some physical insights into the energy efficiency of the system design. In
Table III, the magnetic field patterns on the left-hand column
have the relay resonator placed at a distance of 0.2 m from
the transmitter coil, while those in the right-hand column have
the relay resonator placed half way between the transmitter and
the receiver coils (i.e., 0.3 m from the transmitter coil). In this
simulation, the load current I3 is set at 1 A and is used as the
reference for the angular position of the sinusoidal waveform.
From the two columns of plots in Table III, the following points
should be noted.
1) The sizes of the magnetic field patterns of the receiver coils
are identical because the currents in the receiver coils in
both cases are identical.
2) The sizes of the magnetic field patterns in the transmitter
coils are quite different. In the case of placing the relay
resonator half way between transmitter and receiver coils,
the sizes of the magnetic field patterns in the transmitter
coil are much larger, implying that the current and its associated conduction loss in the transmitter coil are also much
larger. This observation agrees with the energy efficiencies of these two cases calculated by the coupled circuit
model as tabulated in Table III. By putting the relay resonator closer to the transmitter coil, an energy efficiency
of 46.9% can be achieved. If the relay resonator is placed
in the middle of the system, the energy efficiency drops to
33.9%.
With the load resistance changed to 75 while maintaining
a load current I3 at 1 A, Table IV shows another comparison.
With the relay resonator placed in the middle (i.e., d12 = 0.3 m),
the magnetic field patterns are included in the left-hand col-

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TABLE III
MAGNETIC FLUX CONTOURS OF A STRAIGHT DOMINO-RESONATOR SYSTEM
WITH THREE RESONATORS AND A LOAD RESISTANCE OF 1

umn. With the relay resonator placed closer to the receiver coil
(i.e., d12 = 0.38 m), the magnetic field patterns are shown in
the right-hand column. The sizes of the magnetic field patterns
on the left-hand column are generally larger than those in the
right-hand column. The overall effect is that the efficiency of
placing the relay resonator in the middle (53.1%) is less than
that with the relay resonator closer to the receiver coil (69.3).
2) Circular Domino Systems: In [6], it has been pointed out
that the magnetic flux flows in both clockwise and anticlockwise directions in circular domino systems, which may face
flux cancellation issues if they are not properly designed. This
phenomenon can in fact be visualized from the magnetic field

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER ELECTRONICS, VOL. 30, NO. 3, MARCH 2015

TABLE IV
MAGNETIC FLUX CONTOURS OF A STRAIGHT DOMINO-RESONATOR SYSTEM
WITH THREE RESONATORS AND A LOAD RESISTANCE OF 75

Fig. 7.

Four-coil circular wireless power domino system.


TABLE V
DEFINITIONS OF THE FOUR COILS IN THE SAMPLE

TABLE VI
MAGNETIC FLUX CONTOURS OF A CIRCULAR DOMINO-RESONATOR SYSTEM
WITH FOUR RESONATORS UNDER DIFFERENT LOADING POSITIONS

patterns based on the proposed method. Fig. 7 shows a circular


domino system with four coils. This system is tested under:
1) a symmetric load condition in which a load resistor of 21.2
is connected to the opposite resonator as indicated in Fig. 7; and
2) an asymmetric load condition in which the load resistor is
placed in a resonator next to the transmitter coil.
Unlike the previous simulation for the straight domino system
(which is studied under the identical load power condition), this
study of the circular domino system assumes the current in the
transmitter coil to be identical (i.e., I1 = 1 A). The information
of the four-coil system is given in Table V. The magnetic field
patterns are displayed in Table VI. For the symmetric load case,

ZHANG et al.: A FAST METHOD FOR GENERATING TIME-VARYING MAGNETIC FIELD PATTERNS OF MID-RANGE WIRELESS POWER

TABLE VII
MAGNETIC FLUX CONTOURS OF A Y-SHAPED DOMINO-RESONATOR SYSTEM
WITH TEN RESONATORS UNDER NONIDENTICAL AND IDENTICAL
LOAD CONDITIONS

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field patterns in the two split branches are not identical. The
nonidentical loads cause the induced currents in the relay resonators of the two split branches to have different phase angles. However, different load values will not affect the power
flow in the split branches. In the second case of the identical load test, two resistors of 10 are used. The corresponding magnetic field patterns are shown in the right-hand
column of Table VI. The magnetic field patterns in the two
split branches are found to be identical. The asymmetric symmetric flux patterns for the nonidentical loads and the identical cases, respectively, can be determined from the matrix
equation. The proposed fast method enables such patterns to
be visualized. The proposed method enables the designers to
quickly generate the magnetic field patterns in the time domain. If such patterns are displayed in the time sequence in the
form of a video, this method provides visual information for the
designers to evaluate the performance of the system.
IV. CONCLUSION

the presence and variation of the magnetic field pattern are


obvious in the loaded resonator (opposite to the transmitter coil),
indicating that power has been successfully transferred to the
load. The success of such wireless power transfer is due to
the magnetic flux re-enforcement explained previously in [6].
But for the asymmetric load case, the loaded resonator has no
noticeable magnetic field pattern, implying that no power is
transferred to the load (due to flux cancellation). Therefore, the
magnetic field patterns do provide useful information to the
designers to evaluate the performance of the system.
3) Y-Shaped Domino Systems: The last example is a
Y-shaped wireless domino system comprising ten resonators.
Four of the resonators form a straight line with the first resonator being the transmitter coil as shown in Table VII. Then,
the domino is split into two branches, with each branch comprising three resonators. The load resistors are attached to the
last resonators of these two branches. In the simulation study,
a current of 1 A at the resonant frequency of the resonators is
injected into the transmitter coil. The system is tested under the
1) non-identical loads; and 2) identical loads situations. In the
first case, two nonidentical loads (namely resistors of 10 and
20 ) are used. The corresponding magnetic field patterns for
the first half of the excitation cycle are displayed in the lefthand column of Table VII. It can be seen that the magnetic

A fast methodology of generating time-varying visual images of the magnetic field patterns for wireless power transfer
systems is presented. It combines the fast and accurate calculation of the coupled circuit model equation and the time-efficient
magnetostatic analysis (of a commercial 3-D FE EM field simulation software) together as a tool for studying the behavior of
wireless power transfer systems. This approach overcomes the
time-consuming problem of the time-domain transient EM field
3-D solver and enables researchers to visualize the time-varying
magnetic field patterns in wireless power transfer systems.
The magnetic field patterns within an excitation cycle can be
displayed in a sequential manner to form a time-domain animation of the magnetic behavior of the system. For the first
time, the visual images of the magnetic flux contours displayed
in the time sequence have enabled us to explain the behavior
of straight, circular, and Y-shaped domino-resonator systems.
This approach can be used as an educational tool for students
and researchers to understand more about the mechanisms of
wireless power transfer.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
This paper is an extended version of a conference paper [16].
The computer animations of some of the wireless power transfer
systems described in this paper can be watched at the following
link: http://www.eee.hku.hk/research/eets.html.
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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER ELECTRONICS, VOL. 30, NO. 3, MARCH 2015

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Cheng Zhang was born in China, in 1990. He received the B.Eng. degree with first class honors
in electronic and communication engineering from
the City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong
Kong SAR, in 2012, and is currently working toward the Ph.D. degree in the Department of Electrical
and Electronic Engineering, The University of Hong
Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
His current research interests include designs and optimizations for wireless power transfer
applications.

Wenxing Zhong (M13) was born in China in 1984.


He received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering
from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, in 2007,
and the Ph.D. degree from the City University of
Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
He is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow
in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong. His current research interests include synchronous rectification and wireless power
transfer.

Xun Liu (M07SM13) was born in China in 1978.


He received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China,
in 2001 and 2003, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree
from the City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon,
Hong Kong, in 2007.
He is currently the Chief Technology Officer of
ConvenientPower (HK), Ltd., Shatin, Hong Kong,
where he is leading research, innovation, and standardization of wireless power technology and products. He is also the Vice-Chair of Low Power Work
Group and Medium Power Work Group in the Wireless Power Consortium. His
current research interest includes power electromagnetics.
Dr. Liu received 2009 IEEE Power Electronics Society Transaction Prize
Paper Award.

S. Y. Ron Hui (F03) received the Ph.D. degree from


Imperial College London, London, U.K., in 1987.
He is currently the Chair Professor of power electronics at The University of Hong Kong (HKU), Pokfulam, Hong Kong, and Imperial College London.
At HKU, he holds the Philip Wong Wilson Wong
Endowed Professorship in electrical engineering. He
has published more than 200 technical papers, including more than 170 refereed journal publications and
book chapters. More than 50 of his patents have been
adopted by industry.
Dr. Hui is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics and the IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics. Since 2013, he has
been an Editor of the IEEE Journal of Emerging and Selected Topics in Power
Electronics. He has been appointed twice as an IEEE Distinguished Lecturer by
the IEEE Power Electronics Society in 2004 and 2006. He served as one of the
18 Administrative Committee members of the IEEE Power Electronics Society
and was the Chairman of its Constitution and Bylaws Committee from 2002 to
2010. He received the Excellent Teaching Award in 1998. He won an IEEE Best
Paper Award from the IEEE IAS Committee on Production and Applications
of Light in 2002, and two IEEE Power Electronics Transactions Prize Paper
Awards for his publications on Wireless Battery Charging Platform Technology
in 2009 and on LED system theory in 2010. His inventions on wireless charging
platform technology underpin key dimensions of Qi, the worlds first wireless
power standard, with freedom of positioning and localized charging features for
wireless charging of consumer electronics. In November 2010, he received the
IEEE Rudolf Chope R&D Award from the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society,
the IET Achievement Medal (The Crompton Medal) and was elected to the Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering.