Researchers integrating solar cells into LCD filters

LCD displays are notorious power wasters and a huge source of battery drain in mobile devices. What if they could collect energy instead of just using it? That’s the goal of two teams of researchers working to integrate solar cells into traditional LCD components. The first group is adding light-harvesting solar tech into polarizing filters for standard screens, while the second is working on color filters for e-ink displays.

Although prototype filters have been created by both camps, the potential for power savings isn’t as great as one might hope. The color filter is only expected to generate "tens of milliwatts" of power, while the polarizing prototype converts just 3-4% of the light hitting it into usable energy. The UCLA engineering team behind the latter expects to hit 10% efficiency by tweaking the materials used in the filter, though.

Integrating solar cells into LCD displays may not dramatically improve the battery life of mobile devices, but it’s nice to see efforts being made. Intel is actually funding the UCLA group that’s working on the polarizing filter. Both projects appear to be in the very early stages, so we probably won’t see the technology pop up in actual devices for quite some time.

Comments closed
    • Parallax
    • 8 years ago

    Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to place solar cells on the edge and back of the device? I don’t mind placing a device upside down if I know it will charge.

    • Jigar
    • 8 years ago

    You do realize Apple has a patent for that… No i am serious.

    • HighTech4US2
    • 8 years ago

    LCD BACKLIGHTS are notorious power wasters

    LCD’s are very power efficient it’s the power needed to back light the LCD that eats the power and 10’s of milliwatts is just plain useless for helping with that.

      • Peldor
      • 8 years ago

      And I’m very thin, not counting my body fat.

        • wierdo
        • 8 years ago

        Well, unlike your body fat, LCD could integrate stuff like LED lighting for reducing energy usage etc.

      • kroker
      • 8 years ago

      LEDs are very efficient at generating light, and CFLs are good too. The problem is that the LCD filters block so much of the generated light, so really it’s the fault of the LCD filters.

        • cegras
        • 8 years ago

        Efficient? CCFL is 8 to 10 percent, and LED is not much higher.

          • kroker
          • 8 years ago

          8 to 10 percent of what? What other sources of artificial light are more efficient at generating light per watt? Are we talking about different things?

            • cegras
            • 8 years ago

            Efficiency of converting electricity to light.

      • albundy
      • 8 years ago

      Agreed. LCD’s can be powered by ambient light. no need for a backlight. hopefully sammy will roll them out.

      [url<]http://www.engadget.com/2011/03/07/samsung-demos-ambient-light-powered-transparent-lcd/[/url<]

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    solar tech today is ten fold what it was ten years ago. Its not hard to imagine solar tech continuing to expand and eventually resolving many of our mobile power issues. I’d also look to kinetic charging in mobile devices to become a prominent tech in the next decade (like it is in watches.)

    Edit: Almost forgot about wireless charging by radio waves that could have some huge implications as well, though side effects of such a tech have yet to be seen.

    Edit: First POST!!!

      • odizzido
      • 8 years ago

      I see that in the future as well, and can’t wait. Solar tech gets better and laptops keep requiring less power, eventually they will meet like they did with calculators.

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