A team of chaps from the University of Cambridge, headed by IEEE Fellow Arokia Nathan, hopes to reduce the frequency at which we charge our smartphones (i.e. all the freakin’ time).
Indeed, at the Materials Research Society’s recent autumn meeting in Boston, researcher Arman Ahnood suggested that ultimately we might see phones that never need plugged in.
For now, the team has developed a prototype that uses solar cells made of – wait for it – thin-film hydrogenated amorphous silicon. What else? The cells sit within the phone’s screen and convert ambient light to electricity.
Interestingly, the team observed that in a typical OLED display, a mere 36% of light generated is projected out of the screen. A large portion escapes out the side, so there are additional cells around the edge of the display too.
For now, the technology simply increases the amount of time between charges. Throwing our chargers away is still a long way off, but it’s a step in the right direction.
For an incredibly in-depth description of the technology, and some fantastic phrases such as “magnetic resonance coupling via an induction coil”, head over to IEEE Spectrum.