Outside of wireless power, having a display that can actually recycle energy might be the other holy grail of consumer electronics energy. Now, researchers from UCLA have created a new technology that may bring this dream into reality.
The new technology uses photovoltaic polarizers in order to turn ordinary LCDs into ones that could be powered by sunlight and their own backlight. This technology allows the displays to convert ambient light, sunlight and their own backlight into electricity. The energy-harvesting polarizer for LCDs (something called a polarizing organic photovoltaic) can potentially boost the function of an LCD by working simultaneously as a polarizer, a photovoltaic device and an ambient light or sunlight photovoltaic panel.
When looking at the raw energy usage numbers, things are fairly staggering. A device's backlight can consume 80 to 90 percent of the device's power, but as much as 75 percent of the light generated is lost through the polarizers. A polarizing organic photovoltaic LCD could recover much of that unused energy.
It's hard to say when this will leave the lab and head to the marketplace, but at least there is some promise that battery life may actually improve in the future, rather than continually getting worse with the advent of things like 4G.