Solar Technology Brings You Self-Charging Cell Phone Screens

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Solar Technology Brings You Self-Charging Cell Phone Screens

Solar Technology Brings You Self-Charging Cell Phone Screens

Recently we have seen a lot of advances in solar technology. From solar dresses to flexible solar panels that can be applied like stickers, solar is on the way up, and for good reason. As solar efficiency improves, we are able to generate more and more power from one of the most inexhaustible resources we have, the sun. Currently some 16% of the world’s power is provided by renewable energy sources, some of which is solar. While we use solar power for many things, one thing that we haven’t really used it for is charging a phone battery except for one failed attempt at putting solar charging cells on the back of the phone. Sure, there are plenty of portable solar power charging packs on the market, but mostly at much too high of a price for the average consumer to consider the risk.

Now, Sun Partnership has developed a new solar technology that could allow your phone to charge simply by being placed in the sun. That technology is solar screens and might greatly reduce the need to charge a phone while outdoors, or even indoors on a sunny day if there is a window.

solar self charging phones

How Does it Work?

While the technology that went into putting solar panels on the back of phones failed, it was mostly because people were leery of putting their phone face down. With the solar panels embedded into the screen, the phone would be able to remain face up while charging. While the initial idea was to install a solar plate around the screen, this wouldn’t work either, as most of today’s smartphones use the full front as a touchpad, and few users would want to sacrifice usability for alternate power. Instead, Sun Partnership is working on a method of weaving solar receptacles into the LED touchscreen, meaning that the screen itself actually charges the phone. How much? It would actually depend on how much sunlight the phone was getting, and how direct the light was.

At the same time, research in universities around the United States is working on making opaque solar cells that absorb infrared and UV, as well as working on weaving solar cells into LEDs. Similar technology is being developed to help capture that energy as efficiently as possible while others are working on capturing as much light as possible, including that which is leaked around the edges of the glass. While it might seem farfetched, Sun Partner has already created a prototype using the film solar panels that we already have. By layering them into clear materials, the company was able to make them disappear for an 80% opacity. Future versions should be up to 90% opaque, and versions after that are expected to have an even clearer screen.

Matthieu De Broca of SunPower suggests that while the solar cells wouldn’t be able to replace a charge, they could extend the life of the battery by about 20% during normal use, and prevent it from draining at all while idle. Considering that once developed, the technology would only cost about $2.30 to add to each phone, it’s an investment worth making. For users willing to leave their phone lying in the sun while they have lunch or a smoke break, that recharge might even cover a bit more than the 20%.


While a solar charging phone screen might sound like a great idea, there are a lot of barriers. The first is that the technology is not yet ready to implement. While there are do have prototypes, they are nowhere near as functioning or as efficient as a working model would have to be.

Another consideration is that the majority of people just don’t spend that much time outside. Even when presented with a lunch break and a sunny park, most will stay indoors to eat. Most people also tend to leave their phones in their pockets rather than out on a table or in a window where they might be forgotten.  As a result, the majority of phones might not get enough exposure to sunlight for solar chargers to be feasible.

What do you think? Are self-charging screens the future of phone technology? Or is this a gimmick that will fail as quickly as solar panels on the back of a phone? Check out SunPartner for more information.

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Proliferate writer, sesquipedalian, techie, Apple fangirl (don't judge),tree hugger, yogi, tea drinker, zombie hunter. Into philotherianism & philomathy. Love my job. Visit me on Google +

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