Improving Power Electronics
Power bricks are part of the reality of many electronics, from game consoles to mobile devices, and they can come in many shapes and sizes. All serve a similar function though of converting power in one form to another, such as from AC to DC. This conversion process is not always simple and can actually cost energy, which is why researchers at MIT have been developing systems to improve the efficiency of power electronics.
One of the ways the researchers are working to improve performance is to increase the switching frequency of the devices. A higher frequency means less power needs to be buffered in capacitors, reducing their size and heat, and enables easier redirection of the energy, because it is working with less energy. The researchers built a prototype LED driver that uses higher frequencies and ceramic capacitors, instead of the more common electrolytic capacitors, and found it could also push a power density five to ten times more than current systems.
The researchers are also looking at ways to improve power systems at server farms. Currently the power coming in has to go through many stages before reaching the servers. By reducing the steps, such as making it all DC without converting to AC at any point, the efficiency could be increased, and potentially the system's ability to adapt to use.