Photovoltaic breakthrough for portable electronics

1 min read

A new breakthrough in solar technology could enable portable electronic devices such as ebook readers and mobile phones to be recharged on the move in low light levels and partial shading.

Scientists from the University of Warwick and spin out Molecular Solar created an organic photovoltaic (OPV) cell that generates a sufficiently high voltage to recharge a lithium ion battery directly, without the need to connect multiple individual cells in series. The team says this technology is a significant breakthrough because the problem of low output voltage in low light levels has been addressed, therefore taking an important step towards rolling out cheap OPV cells in low power portable electronics. So far, the scientists have demonstrated a cell with an open circuit voltage of over 7V, which is said to deliver maximum power at more than the 4.2V needed to power a standard lithium ion battery. "We have taken a big step towards cheap to make solar chargers which can top up your devices whenever they are being used – both indoors and out," said lead researcher Professor Tim Jones. "A small lightweight solar charger no bigger than a credit card can be fitted to the battery of an ebook reader for example, and constantly top it up with power while you are reading it - even if you are sitting inside on the sofa." The team says that the next step is to make cheap OPV chargers available on a commercial scale through Molecular Solar.