Battery life is one of the core problems facing today’s high tech devices. For every new feature added, more power is used, and the actual battery life of the device never really seems to improve. We are told that new breakthroughs in battery technology are just around the corner, but yet despite this, most devices use the same Lithium-ion batteries which they have used for years. But what if the solution wasn’t a better battery?
Scientists at Michigan State University have created a revolutionary new power system which they believe could change the way devices are powered. It involves the production of an innovative new kind glass of solar panel. In the past such panels have been coloured and opaque at best, but their new invention allows for the production of completely transparent, clear solar panel glass.
To do this, they created a panel which absorbs light not in visible wavelengths, but rather within the ultraviolet and infrared spectrums. “Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye,” researcher Richard Lunt explains.
These new panels, while not particularly efficient at this stage, could nonetheless be used in a wide range of areas. Smartphones and tablets could contain screens built from these sort of materials allowing them to generate power as they are being used, or simply recharge themselves whenever they are exposed to sunlight. This would enable these devices to have extended (or indeed infinite) battery lives, provided the panel can generate sufficient power.
Lunt goes on to explain: “It opens a lot of area to deploy solar energy in a non-intrusive way [...] It can be used on tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader. Ultimately we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there.”
While this tech has great promise, the team will need to make considerable efficiency gains in order for it to be practically viable. So unfortunately we may have to still endure flat batteries for some time to come…
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