The hassle of having to charge your smartphone for hours a day could become a thing of the past.
British scientists have created a material that replaces the screen glass for phones, tablets and smartwatches, but uses no power – meaning they could be charged weekly.
The discovery is significant because more than 90 per cent of a device’s battery power illuminates the screen.
Technology firms have focused on improving battery life. But the British experts say tackling the main drain on a gadget’s power may give better results.
Oxford University engineer Dr Peiman Hosseini, who invented the material, told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘You have to charge smartwatches every night. But if you had smart glass, you could recharge it just once a week.’
The innovation uses electrical pulses to create displays that require no power and can be viewed even in direct sunlight. Dr Hosseini’s company, Bodle Technologies, hopes to have a prototype in a year.
‘This is the right moment to be an academic at Oxford,’ Dr Hosseini said.
Battery life is seen as a major stumbling block for modern computing and technology.
While the power of technology and lifestyle gadgets has improved exponentially in recent years, batteries have not kept pace.
The success of smart watches, including Apple’s version, is thought to hinge on solving this problem – because few users are willing to charge a watch every day.
Gadget firms are also desperate to solve the problem.
Apple, for example, is investigating using fuel cells to power its phones and laptops, and this year was granted a patent for a system it claimed could power its devices for weeks.
In 2012 US energy secretary Steven Chu called for a big push to improve batteries, challenging scientists to produce a battery with five times the capacity within five years.
Aside from mobile gadgets, improving battery technology is seen as being key to the success of electric cars, which currently have a limited mileage before they must stop to be recharged.