Energy-Harvesting LCDs Will Help When You Forget to Charge

Engineers at UCLA are working on new technology that turns LCD screens into photovoltaic cells which would allow laptops and smartphones to harvest solar energy while they are in use. Don’t worry, you won’t need to use your mobile device outside to reap the benefits, since the technology allows them to harvest their own backlight as well.

Though LCD technology has improved in leaps and bounds, and LCD screens are more efficient than ever before, they still use and waste a lot of energy – About 75 percent goes into the polarization process and brightening the screen. Reclaiming some of that wasted energy could lead to significant improvements in battery life.

UCLA engineer Yang Yang calls the team’s polarizing organic photovoltaic a potential game-changer. It doesn’t complement conventional LCD polarizers, it replaces them as a kind of all-in-one polarizer and photovoltaic panel.

Yang explains that he sees great potential in the polarizing organic photovoltaic:

In the near future, we would like to increase the efficiency of the polarizing organic photovoltaics, and eventually we hope to work with electronic manufacturers to integrate our technology into real products. We hope this energy-saving LCD will become a mainstream technology in displays.

Obviously, it will take some time before we see this technology on the market, but in the not too distant future it might be possible to leave the house and not have to worry about your smartphone running out of power.