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A solar coating to power your tablet computer

Posting in Energy

Sunny daze. It should become even easier for us to stay in our cyber stupors once we can power tablet computers with sunlight.

We've been using solar-powered calculators since the 1970s. Why can't the same general idea drive gadgets like tablet computers?

Ubiquitous Energy says it can.

The Cambridge, Mass. company is developing a coating that when deposited on the screens of tablets and electronic readers would convert sunlight into energy for the devices, MIT Technology Review reports.

The same layers of organic material could also turn the windows of buildings into photovoltaic generators - a concept on which other companies are also working.

Ubiquitous' film works by tapping only invisible portions of the light spectrum - ultraviolet and infrared. It allows the visible wavelengths through - otherwise your tablet could go dark. And since most tablet users are tablet addicts, just think of the panic that would cause.

"There are other types of see-through solar cells, but many of them still harvest some light in the visible range and therefore don't have the transparency potential of an approach that ignores visible light," MIT writes.

The company is still in the research and development stage. It has not yet achieved high enough levels of energy efficiency or transparency. A 2011 paper reported that the company's technology was converting less than 2 percent of light into energy and providing 70 percent transparency. Ubiquitous is targeting a conversion rate of over 10 percent.

My calculator has a slim panel of solar cells. No fancy screen coating in sight. I assume a tablet - or to point to my own archaic technology, a laptop - is too power hungry for the average photovoltaic strip? For now, I'll thank the sun for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I look forward to the day that it smiles upon web browsing.

Image from www.globalsources.com

Similarly bright ideas on SmartPlanet:

A wider beam of solar stories, including some offbeat ones:

— By on February 25, 2013, 9:14 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure