Solar cell innovation may revolutionize mobile and IoT device charging


ClearView Power is a film-coating process. The website adds, “Non-toxic, readily available materials are deposited by vacuum deposition techniques common in high-throughput film coating processes, and the low-temperature deposition process can utilize rigid or flexible substrates.”Two things make this particular film coating special: It has photovoltaic properties, and the film is transparent to visible light. Put the two together, and ClearView Power film coatings are capable of creating electricity using radiation in the ultraviolet and infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum while ignoring light in the visible portion of the spectrum.

Loss of efficiency?
Not converting light in the visible spectrum to electricity raises the concern that this technology is much less efficient. However, in this YouTube presentation, Barr states, “Two-thirds of the light available for energy harvesting is in the ultraviolet and the infrared, leading to practical efficiencies over 10% while maintaining up to 90% visible transparency.”
It takes a few minutes to grasp the extent of what the people at Ubiquitous Energy have accomplished, especially when Barr says that initially transparency was not a requirement. However, he adds, “The idea of transparency has risen to the top as something that has much value for a wide range of applications.”

With the company’s transparent photovoltaic film technology, the display area on mobile devices becomes a prime candidate for solar-power generation. The advantages of having a display-sized solar cell charging the battery without loss of display quality should excite mobile device users, especially international travelers currently resigned to carrying various power adapters.

In the video, Barr and Lunt mention the immense potential they see for their technology powering IoT devices — for example, the small digital signs (Electronic Shelf Labels — ESLs) beginning to appear on store shelves. ESLs are network connected, have a display, and currently use batteries. From the Ubiquitous Energy website: “The electricity generated from indoor or outdoor ambient light can be used to recharge small, low-cost capacitors instead of batteries for infinite device life — all with no aesthetic impact.”


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