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Solar screen market heating up

OLED screens are hot. Hot because they can be used to harness solar energy and power things like your phone or your car. And hot because, if you leave a screen out in the sun it gets, you know, hot. Arman Ahnood, a researcher at the London Centre for Nanotechnology, wants to use the screens in smartphones to, stay with me here, harness the excess energy from light that they emit to recharge the phone’s battery. That’s like humans being able to feed themselves a steady diet of fingernail stew. Yuck! But hmmmmm, I wonder... no, yuck!

Mashable has a more dignified description: “According to Ahnood, only 36% of the light produced by an OLED display is projected out and the rest is wasted. This wasted light, which is scattered or “bleeding” from the edge of the display, can be harnessed with photovoltaic cells, built into the screen itself.” The technology isn’t totally there yet, Ahnood admits - phones require more power than he can currently harness, but he’s hopeful.

Electronics giant, Phillips, is teaming with BASF (cassette tape giant?) to bring us an OLED car roof. Engadget reports the roof “behaves like glass when inactive, turning opaque when activated,” and like Ahnood’s phone, it can be lined with solar cells to help produce energy. Maybe that energy can be directed to the car’s cigarette lighter, which could be powering your phone, which would be further powering itself. Rabbit hole!

 

About the author

Marc Sanchez is the technical director and associate producer for Marketplace Tech Report where he is responsible for shaping the sound of the show.
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