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Solar Power for Used Cell Phones

A new advancement in solar power technology could mean extended operating time for used cell phones.  While battery life has been substantially extended in recent years, both used cell phones and laptop computers that feature LCD screens can run out of power much sooner, a fact which a new technology that has been developed at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) could be about to help to change.

The team from UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has come up with organic photovoltaic (OPV) polarizers that can be fitted into LCD screens in order to be able to both harvest and recycle energy.  The system is able to work by converting sunlight, ambient light, and even the backlight of the device itself into electricity.

“I believe this is a ‘game changer’ invention to improve the efficiency of LCD displays,” says UCLA Engineering’s professor of materials science Yang Yang, who also served as the principal investigator on the research.  “In addition, these polarizers can also be used as regular solar cells to harvest indoor or outdoor light.”

LCD screens are by far the most common form of electronic display technology and can be found in everything from new and old cell phones, television screens, laptops, computer monitors, and tablet computers.  Up to 75% of the photons that are wasted in the backlight of current LCD screens could be turned back into electricity by the new technology.