The blog entry “Energy on the Go” makes some very good points about the power used by consumer devices like cell phones, and how frustrating it is to have them run out of power. That poster’s conclusion that piezoelectric power generation is not yet ready to supply the amount of power needed is a point well taken. However, there may be other energy generation methods that could be used in the meantime, or even long-term. We are all aware of how large the displays on cell phones have become. In fact, when we buy a new cell phone, the size of the screen is usually one of the primary criteria we look at.
Since the display pretty much occupies the entire front surface of the phone, wouldn’t it be nice if that large area could serve an additional purpose, such a generating power to recharge the phone’s battery. What if the screen was not just a display, but a photovoltaic generator (solar panel) as well. It does not appear that this technology currently exists, but it is certainly worth investigating. The larger a solar panel is, the more power it generates and, since we insist on larger and larger displays, the power available should be significant. Since the display technology and the photovoltaic technology both currently exist, how difficult would it be to combine them?