Energy produced by the backlight of LCD devices such as smartphones or TVs could soon be recycled and re-used by the device itself due to a technological breakthrough by UCLA engineers. 


Currently LCD backlight devices such as smart phones, TV screens and computer monitors work in the following manner; miniscule liquid crystals sandwiched between two polarizing sheets, which covert wide areas of light into small well defined beams. These crystals are then manipulated to allow a certain amount of light through - making parts of the screen appear lighter or darker as required.

Studies estimate that this current method of backlighting can consume between 80-90 percent of a device's power.

However in a statement released August 9 engineers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) claimed to have created a more efficient process of backlighting that could recycle the power lost by the device.   

The UCLA engineers claim to have invented an energy harvesting polarizer for LCDs called a ‘polarizing organic photovoltaic', which works both as a polarizer and as a photovoltaic panel.

This means that any device using the polarizer, such as a smart phone, could extend its battery power by recycling 75 percent of the energy used for backlighting and that the battery could be replenished, without the need for a external charger, by merely exposing the device to sunlight.

Professor of materials science at UCLA Engineering Yang Yang stated that " [...]eventually we hope to work with electronic manufacturers [and] we hope this energy-saving LCD will become a mainstream technology in displays".

Currently energy efficient LCD devices such as TVs and computer monitors in the USA, EU, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are awarded Energy Star certification. More information about the certification and a list of devices to which it has been awarded can be found via the links below.

Energy Star USA-
Energy Star EU-
Energy Star AU-
Energy Star NZ-
Energy Star JP-

The full findings by the UCLA engineers will be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Advanced Materials -