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Mobile phones get solar-powered

Posted: 09 Nov 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:solar panel? mobile handset? solar cell?

Sharp is diversifying its solar component portfolio to address a wide range of mobile applications, such as mobile handsets. However, integrating miniature solar panels into handsets is just the beginningfurther applications include all network-independent and mobile applications in particular.

Miniature solar cells can significantly extend the operating life between battery charging cycles of speed and distance monitors for runners and cyclists, digital cameras, laptops, portable media players, pocket PCs, outdoor products and of course technical gadgets. For sensors or remote controls (for example, the domestic TV set) that are independent of the mains power supply it may even be possible to provide as much as 100 percent of the power requirement from a solar cell.

In the coming year, after the successful launch of the first LROGC02 type panel, Sharp plans to expand the product family of solar components for mobile applications to five models to address a broad range of mobile applications. What they all have in common is the high efficiency of 13 percent and the low mounting depth of only 0.8mm, which makes for extreme ease of integration into the body of devices.

A further distinguishing characteristic of Sharp solar panels is that cells are double wired to ensure panel performance is fully maintained even in the event of a cell breakage. This is an important feature especially for use in portable devices, which are subject to high mechanical stress.

By varying the number and configuration of the individual polycrystalline solar cells the panels provide different power outputs and voltages. The range extends from single cell types with a 30mW power output at a voltage of 0.5V to models with 10 cells and a power output of 300mW at 5V.

The first step towards expanding the portfolio will be the launch of the LROGC03 type panel in the first quarter of 2010. With a surface of 41mm x 33mm, this member of the product family is approximately half the size of the first LROGC02 type panel and reaches a maximum power output of 130mW with a voltage of 5V with its 10 cells. This makes them particularly suitable for so-called "Smart Meter," small portable consumer devices such as MP3 players as well as intelligent car keys that report, for example, if windows and doors are properly closed or how much gas is left in the tank.

In the long term, Sharp is also working on redesigning the solar panel components. Relocating the wiring to the underside of the panel will give next-generation models an even, continuous surface. This will increase efficiency to as much as 20 percent as the cells will no longer be shaded by the wires. Further, the device's design will also benefit if the exterior is no longer criss-crossed by visible conductors.

- Jean-Pierre Joosting
Microwave Engineering

For application notes on solar panels click here.

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