Back in September, Volvo announced plans to build an electric car that used photo-reactive body panels to generate electricity for its batteries.  Not many details were given at the time, but a recent article on Cleantechnica covering Wysips may give us clues about what Volvo is working on, and point the way towards solar-powered iPads and Androids, too.

Portable electronics sporting photovoltaic panels aren’t new (heck, I had a solar-powered calculator 25 years ago), but Wysips is different.  Instead of being a traditional, opaque “solar panel”, Wysips’ technology is translucent, allowing light to pass through a semi-cylindrical lens onto thin strips of photovoltaic cells just below it, while also allowing the surface underneath to show through.  That “surface underneath” could be a smartphone’s display screen (as shown in the illustrations, below) or the painted body panels of a car.  Or truck.  Or little red wagon.  Or it could just be the bay windows you sit by on a rainy morning to read the news … and that’s the really exciting thing about Wysips:  it doesn’t really matter what you put it on.

The company says that its technology ranges in thickness from 0.1 to 0.5 mm and is about 10 % efficient – which is pretty good, considering that the theoretical “upper limit” of photoelectric silicon-based cells is “just” 29 %.  Further “proving the concept” was a prototype phone (shown) equipped with Wysips film displayed at the CTIA wireless event last month, and – while still not completely battery-free – showed excellent potential in increasing overall battery life.

At the moment, the French company is currently looking for manufacturers willing to employ its new tech, so it probably won’t be too long before we see the first commercial examples hitting the shelves … or (maybe) the roads!

Check out the “how it works” in the gallery, below.

SourcesCleantechnica, Gizmag.