An lcd screen that harvests electrical energy from ambient light, sunlight and its own backlight using a built in photovoltaic polariser has been developed by researchers at UCLA.
Yang Yang, a professor of materials science at UCLA Engineering and principal investigator, believes the breakthrough could, in the not too distant future, enable people to charge their mobile phones simply by putting them in direct sunlight. "I believe this is a game changer invention to improve the efficiency of lcd displays," he stated. "In addition, these polarisers can also be used as regular solar cells to harvest indoor or outdoor light. So next time you are on the beach, you could charge your iPhone via the sun." To create the photovoltaic enabled screens, the researchers created a new type of energy harvesting polariser called a polarising organic photovoltaic, which is said to boost the function of an lcd by working simultaneously as a polariser, a photovoltaic device and an ambient light or sunlight photovoltaic panel. In clinical trials, the device was able to harvest 75% of the wasted photons from lcd backlight and turn them back into electricity. "In the near future, we would like to increase the efficiency of the polarising organic photovoltaics, and eventually we hope to work with electronic manufacturers to integrate our technology into real products", Yang said. "We hope this energy saving lcd will become a mainstream technology in displays."