Researchers at UCLA have a new idea on how to use LCD panels, and it has nothing to do with video. Instead, they've devised a technology allowing screens to absorb and convert various light sources (like its own) into energy.
TG Daily says the key technology is a film overlay called a photovoltaic polarizer, which combines a solar-panel-like technology with the standard display mechanisms.
LCDs work by using two polarized sheets that let only a certain amount of a device's backlight pass through. Tiny liquid crystal molecules are sandwiched between the two polarizers, and can be switched by tiny transistors to act as light valves. Manipulating each of the screen's light valves, or pixels, lets a certain amount of the backlight escape.
Now, the UCLA team has created what it calls a polarizing organic photovoltaic, which 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.
LCD screens are a primary power suck of batteries, and UCLA researchers think that a significant portion of escaped light can be recouped by this new technology, leading to noticeable increases in battery life. There have also been companies who have experimented with placing solar cells inside a screen's bezel, or charging devices through kinetic motion. [UCLA via TG Daily via Inhabitat via Slashdot]