Really? You can almost visualize him driving around in a Model S sedan, dressed in a black shirt emblazoned with bolts of lightning to complete the picture. Tesla must surely be glowing from far beyond upon hearing of all this. But the truth is, we still don’t know the truth. We need to ask: What fraction of the legend is fact? How much of it is just that: a legend? How exactly did we get here? And where are we headed? This article tries to answer that, and also serve as a high-level review of the current state of WPT.
Tesla Burns Rubber
They say it all started in May 1891 when Tesla, a naturalized American of Serbian origin, performed a live demo of wireless power transfer in front of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in New York City. Though no scientific records of that event exist, there is a news report on Page 2 of the archives of The Daily Nevada State Journal, Reno, Nevada, dated Tuesday, June 30, 1891.
From that mildly sensationalized description, it seems Tesla first used his now-famous “Tesla coils” to generate 250-kV across two large zinc plates facing each other several feet apart, and then waved an entrancing glowing tube between them. But based on what we know today, this entire setup was perhaps just a large capacitor, and the resulting glow was probably just electroluminescence at work within a long phosphor-coated gas-filled or vacuum tube placed between the plates. Tesla seems to have been part of the intervening dielectric. But discounting any nervous breakdowns, there was definitely no incandescent