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High Efficiency Solar Cells may Augment Smartphone Batteries

Our powerful smartphones and tablets are only as good as their battery life, and finding an outlet to recharge them isn’t always as easy as it seems, especially when you’re on the move.

But in the near future, we could be using small, highly-efficient solar cells to help power our mobile devices and boost their battery lives, thanks to the new generation of solar cell technology from Alta Devices

Alta Devices, which recently set a record for solar cell efficiency at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of 30.8%, makes extremely thin and flexible cells using Gallium Arsenide, which could really change the way that mobile devices are powered and used.

“We are changing the way solar technology is used. With our technology, enough energy can be generated from sunlight to effectively power devices in ways not previously possible. We are working with a number of customers who are designing their mobile products to increase battery life; and in some cases, we can provide enough energy to eliminate the need to plug into the electric grid.” – Chris Norris, President and CEO of Alta Devices

These ultra-thin solar cells are not only made on a flexible substrate (enabling a wider range of applications), but they are also lightweight and are said to be able to be manufactured at a reasonable cost, which may put Alta Devices at the leading edge of mobile solar tech.

The company has built a prototype cover for a smartphone, integrating a solar cell to help augment the life of the onboard battery, but the devices aren’t available commercially yet. According to the NY Times, the amount of solar ‘film’ that would cover a smartphone could probably see a peak output of 1.5 watts, which is about half of what the phone would draw from a wall outlet.

But even at this small of a size, the solar cell could extend the battery life of a mobile device with just a short time in the direct sun:

“If you’re in full sun, a watt and a half for 10 minutes will give you an hour of talk time.” – Norris

Find out more about Alta Devices mobile power technology at their site.

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