A team of UCLA engineers led by Yang Yang, a professor of materials science at UCLA Engineering, have invented a new photovoltaic polarizer that, applied to the LCD screens of phones and other gadgets could allow them to charge from ambient light, sunlight or even their own backlight.
Thus, the bigger the screen, the higher the savings, so this is something that smartphones would definitely benefit from.
LCD screens have a two polarized sheets lit by a backlight that passes through. Sandwiched between the two polarizers are tiny liquid crystal molecules, that are switched on and off, blocking or letting the light pass through. Current LCD screens are pretty inefficient, losing up to 75 percent of the light their backlights emit through polarizers.
The invention is practically a new type of polarizer, called “polarizing organic photovoltaic,” and can work simultaneously as a polarized and as a solar cell.
“The polarizing organic photovoltaic cell demonstrated by Professor Yang’s research group can potentially harvest 75 percent of the wasted photons from LCD backlight and turn them back into electricity,” said Youssry Boutros, program director for the Intel Labs Academic Research Office, which supported the research.