Powering smartphones such as iPhones with solar technology has moved a step closer, after a UK company set a new record for converting indoor light into electricity.
Cardiff-based G24 Innovations (G24i) claims to have produced a photovoltaic (PV) cell with an efficiency rate of 26 per cent, beating the previous record, also held by the company, by over 10 percentage points.
The company says the performance makes the cell almost five times more powerful than its nearest competitor, and according to its inventor, Professor Michael Graetzel, a 40 per cent efficiency rate remains feasible.
Richard Costello, chief operating officer of G24i, said such levels raise the possibility of the technology replacing batteries in consumer electronics or even reducing the carbon emissions impact of larger energy consuming appliances, such as TVs or sound systems.
The technology, which allows small solar cells to generate energy from low level indoor light, is already operating shade and blind systems for one of the largest hotels in Las Vegas. G24i is now working on applications for wireless keyboards.
"New applications of our technology become possible at this efficiency rate and current applications will require smaller modules to achieve the same power density, allowing product designers in the consumer electronics space to throw away the rule book," said Costello.
"The global market for disposable batteries is worth in the region of $80bn a year. The potential to increase the volume of sales for our technology is immense."
G24i has spent five years working to commercialise the technology, which works by using dye-sensitised cells that partially mimic the process of photosynthesis.
The design, which took several decades of work, won Graetzel the 2012 Albert Einstein World Award of Science and the 2010 Millennium Technology Prize.
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