Portable gadgets, like smartphones and tablets, have changed the way we consume information and communicate, but at this stage they all have one common flaw: they need to be tethered to the wall for a few hours to recharge their batteries. From portable solar panels to kinetic energy harvesting, we’ve seen several clever ideas aimed at generating energy on the go, but a new startup called Ubiquitious Energy promises to revolutionize the way we power our mobile devices. The company plans to develop see-through solar cells that can be installed on top of tablet screens, keeping your iPad running all day long.
Photo via Shutterstock
According to the MIT Technology Review, Ubiquitous Energy’s solar cells collect wavelengths at the ultraviolet and infrared end of the spectrum, but they allow visible light pass through, making it possible for users to still use their tablets as the solar cells absorb energy. In contrast, most solar cells collect light in the visible portion of the light spectrum, making it impossible for them to be completely transparent. The solar cells are made from several organic layers that are placed, one layer at a time, on the glass screen of a tablet, Miles Barr, president and chief technology officer of Ubiquitous Energy, told MIT Tech Review.
The company, which was formed in the lab of MIT electrical engineering professor Vladimir Bulović, is still in the research and development stage. Prototypes have achieved about 2 percent efficiency and visible transparency of about 70 percent, but Barr says the company is working on improving both of those numbers. Ubiquitous Energy hasn’t announced any plans to release the solar plans or how they will be priced yet.