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Apple patent filing suggests solar powered iPhone

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The battery life of portable gadgets has always been a source of frustration. But Apple may have found an eco-friendly way around the problem – by integrating a solar panel behind, say, the iPhone’s LCD display.

Apple has filed a patent application for the integration of a layer of solar cells below a gadget’s LCD display. Essentially, sunlight passing across, say, the iPhone’s screen could be soaked-up by the solar panel beneath the LCD and then turned into useable power for the phone.

The firm's "Solar cells on portable devices" patent application states that “solar cells embedded into the device then provide the electrical power to charge the batteries. The power generated from the solar cell can also directly power the operations of the device”.

It’s not clear at this stage which devices Apple may consider using solar power for, although the iPhone would be an obvious guess because battery life on the phone has been panned since day one.

The patent also states that information about solar-power generation could be displayed on the device’s main screen, allowing users to monitor the amount of mains-sourced power left versus the level of solar charge available.

Apple isn't the first manufacturer to consider integrating solar cells directly into gadgets though. In 2007, Motorola developed a screen allowing around 75 per cent of light to radiate through, meaning a solar cell could be placed behind to soak-up the light and turn it into useable power.

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