Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Energy Voices: Insights on the future of fuel and power

Apple iPhone: Could it run on solar power?

Apple has secured a new patent for an integrated touch and solar sensor panel, Kennedy writes, which could mean a solar powered Apple iPhone is on the horizon.

By Charles KennedyGuest blogger / February 12, 2013

A man looks at his Apple iPad in front an Apple logo outside an Apple store in downtown Shanghai. Apple's luster is diminishing as it continues to lose market share to its competitors and face criticism from investors and suppliers.

Aly Song/Reuters/File


Apple has just had a new patent approved for what could become the next major advancement in mobile phone technology in the form of an integrated touch and solar sensor panel; in layman’s terms a solar powered iPhone.

Skip to next paragraph

offers extensive coverage of all energy sectors from crude oil and natural gas to solar energy and environmental issues. To see more opinion pieces and news analysis that cover energy technology, finance and trading, geopolitics, and sector news, please visit

Recent posts

New generations of smart phones have faster electronics, more powerful computer chips, and larger screens with a higher resolution, yet battery technology has changed little, and this is starting to limit further advancements. Phones are becoming thinner and thinner, but they can only be as thin as their battery allows them to be; using a solar panel would avoid that problem.

On Tuesday the US Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple with patent number 8,368,654 for their ‘integrated touch sensor and solar assembly’. (Related article: New Super Thin Solar Cell Reduces Silicon Wastage by 95%)

The patent described the technology as “integrated touch sensor and solar panel configurations that may be used on portable devices, particularly handheld portable devices such as a media player or phone are disclosed. The integrated touch sensor array and solar cell stack-ups may include electrodes that are used both for collecting solar energy and for sensing on a touch sensor array. By integrating both the touch sensors and the solar cell layers into the same stack-up, surface area on the portable device may be conserved. In addition to being used for capacitive sensing, the integrated touch sensor and solar panel configurations may also be used for optical sensing.”

It works as a normal solar panel made up of many small solar cells. When a finger passes over the cells it blocks out the light and this is noted by the sensors. An algorithm then switches the device to a touch sensitive mode and it works as a normal touch screen.

Original source:

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best energy bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer


Doing Good


What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!