Could this be a window to eeeenfinite power? Maybe not quite, but it could be a cool way to extend the lifetime of your smartphone, tablet or e-reader.
A startup called Ubiquitous Energy has been showing prototypes of a translucent film that charges devices with solar energy. The idea is that in the future, the film could be built into device screens, passively juicing your Kindle anytime you read by a sunny window or in the park. It could even keep devices charged during trips to countries for which you don't have the right plugs.
It's not clear if the film, called ClearView Power, works quite that well just yet. It isn't a commercial product yet; Ubiquitous Energy has been showing it at tech shows such as the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit and the MIT Energy Conference.
The Boston-based startup, which is also developing films to harvest solar energy from windows, still needs to improve the transparency and efficiency of its translucent solar films, MIT Technology Review reported last month. The current ClearView Power devices "have a very light tint, barely noticeable on E Ink readers like the Kindle, although it'll take a bit more tinkering if Apple wants to get it into their Retina Displays," according to Fraunhofer, a European research institute that's supporting ClearView Power through its TechBridge program.
The film uses near-infrared light instead of visible light to generate electricity, which is key to its translucence. After all, if it used visible light, it would absorb visible light and people wouldn't be able to see through it. It works even in the shade, Fraunhofer reported, but it's much better outdoors than indoors.
When this get's inexpensive enough, you could coat highrise glass with it. I could see management companies using it as a marketing tool to persuade tenants to move in, lowest energy bills in the city.
OK I wonder if you could overlay this film over existing solar panels to squeeze more juice out of the sun. Chances are that's a definite yes!
This is exciting news and definitely a move inn the right energy direction!
What about putting it over the windows in a home, or even the windows in a sky scraper(you could probably only do the top layers in the tallest towers, but that's still quite a bit of surface area)
Just can't resist...juice your kindle in the park, lol. Definitely sounds like it could have a larger impact than just charging our electronics.
"Make it so"
Sounds great for windows and e-ink devices...but would you gain that much life when you have the backlight cranked so high on your phone that you can finally read it in direct sunlight?
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Great idea, i wonder if anyone is working on a full spectrum solar absorber?
I think they should put this sort of stuff on traffic lights or at least solar panels. The solar panels provide power and put some in a battery for the night.
@dkella They don't want it to work in the visual spectrum since that will make the film opaque, but it sure would be more efficient if they could get it to work in IR as well as UV...