Engineers at UCLA have developed technology that allows energy gobbling gadgets like smartphones and laptops to convert sunlight, ambient light, and their own backlight into energy. Equipping LCD-enhanced devices with so-called polarizing organic photovoltaics will recoup battery loads of lost power, and enable smartphone users to scour Yelp, scan Twitter, and update their Facebook page without fear of draining the charge before a real communication crisis arises.

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Liquid crystal displays make up the majority of the display screen market because they render bright and colorful images and are relatively easy to manufacture. As popular as they are, LCDs are by no means efficient — as much as 75% of energy is lost in the traditional polarization process and brightening the display drains the majority of the device’s stored electricity.

Photovoltaic polarizers can capture and recycle light that would otherwise be lost in the transmission process.  The polarizers act as light filters and are capable of transforming backlight as well as ambient and natural light, which means that energy-harvesting LCD displays will power up your gadget whether or not it is in use.

Though it will be awhile before the technology is integrated into the design of everyday electronics,  the days of keeping one charger at the office, one in the car, and another at home are limited.

Via TG Daily

Images courtesy of UCLA and Allison Leahy