E-readers are a welcome alternative to lugging around paper-bound tomes when on holiday, as they can store volumes of reading material in one handy, pocket-sized (well almost) device, and offer users the possibility of hours and hours of uninterrupted reading pleasure. That is, of course, until the battery runs out. LG Display has developed a solar cell capable of extending the battery life of an e-reader, possibly making the anxiety of a blank screen on the last page of that captivating thriller less likely.
OK, so the article title is a little misleading. LG has not (yet) entered the e-book market, but the Display branch of the South Korean electronics giant has just announced a new e-book sized thin-film solar cell, and is demonstrating it using a Sony reader at the International Meeting on Information Display in Seoul.
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The thin-film solar cell was developed with e-readers in mind - it's 100 by 100 mm and only 0.7 mm thick. It weighs less than 20g and is produced by placing electrodes onto a glass or plastic substrate rather than a silicon wafer. LG claims the cell currently has an efficiency rate of just 9.6 percent, but is aiming to steadily increase this over time to prepare for commercial application.
Ki Yong Kim, head of the Solar Cell Office at LG Display said, "The idea of e-book combined with solar cell will offer users the added benefit of longer usage." As it stands, the cell could add an extra day's usage to an e-reader for every four to five hours of sunlight it soaks up.
Whether an LG e-reader ever makes an appearance or not, the company will likely licence the technology to existing manufacturers keen on extending battery life.