Fundamentals of Wireless Information and Power Transfer: From RF Energy Harvester Models to Signal and System Designs

Bruno Clercks, Rui Zhang, Robert Schober, Derrick Wing Kwan Ng, Dong In Kim, H. Vincent Poor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

102 Citations (Scopus)


Radio waves carry both energy and information simultaneously. Nevertheless, Radio-Frequency (RF) transmissions of these quantities have traditionally been treated separately. Currently, the community is experiencing a paradigm shift in wireless network design, namely unifying wireless transmission of information and power so as to make the best use of the RF spectrum and radiation as well as the network infrastructure for the dual purpose of communicating and energizing. In this paper, we review and discuss recent progress in laying the foundations of the envisioned dual purpose networks by establishing a signal theory and design for Wireless Information and Power Transmission (WIPT) and identifying the fundamental tradeoff between conveying information and power wirelessly. We start with an overview of WIPT challenges and technologies, namely Simultaneous Wireless Information and Power Transfer (SWIPT), Wirelessly Powered Communication Networks (WPCNs), and Wirelessly Powered Backscatter Communication (WPBC). We then characterize energy harvesters and show how WIPT signal and system designs crucially revolve around the underlying energy harvester model. To that end, we highlight three different energy harvester models, namely one linear model and two nonlinear models, and show how WIPT designs differ for each of them in single-user and multi-user deployments. Topics discussed include rate-energy region characterization, transmitter and receiver architectures, waveform design, modulation, beamforming and input distribution optimizations, resource allocation, and RF spectrum use. We discuss and check the validity of the different energy harvester models and the resulting signal theory and design based on circuit simulations, prototyping and experimentation. We also point out numerous directions that are promising for future research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2018 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Backscatter
  • Electronic mail
  • experimentation
  • linear and nonlinear energy harvester modeling
  • prototyping
  • Radio frequency
  • rate-energy region
  • Receivers
  • signal and system design
  • System analysis and design
  • wireless energy harvesting communications
  • Wireless information and power transfer
  • Wireless networks
  • wireless power transfer
  • wireless powered communications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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