Photovoltaic breakthrough uses display to power your phone

UCLA researchers have developed an intriguing way to produce energy saving LCD screens by incorporating photovoltaic technology.

With LCD screens used in so many devices, be it 42 TV screen or smartphone displays, the researchers at the Californian university want to reuse the energy generated by the device itself.

There are already ways to recharge your phone using a small cell. But what is interesting about the team’s work is it allows not only the use of sunlight or ambient light, but incorporates the technology to make use of the backlights within the screen.

And with backlights consuming up to 90 percent of a screen’s power, the team at UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science believes that much of this can be recouped.

To create PV enabled screens the researchers use polarisers that are either side of the liquid crystals in the screen.  Light passes through the crystals from the backlight with each light valve or pixel creating a picture by allowing light through.

75 percent of the light created by the backlight is actually lost to the polarisers.

With this in mind, the team created what they call a polarising organic photovoltaic, which functions simultaneously as a PV device and a polariser.

The team reckons it’s possible to use the technology either as a solar cell to harvest indoor or outdoor light, or to help the device power itself through its own generated light, reducing the energy bill.

They now hope that to commercialise the technology, and believe that their coating method can easily be applied to manufacturing processes.

The energy conversion rate actually possible now is unclear, so it’s hard to say how distant the team’s aims for it to become a “mainstream technology” are at this point.