One of the biggest issues for all Android devices on the market today is run time. People are away from homes and outlets for long periods of time and keeping their devices charged up and running is a big challenge. While some devices allow for swappable batteries, others require external batteries to keep running. One bit of tech that could mean longer run times for devices in the future are solar panels.

The typical solar panel is a black device that you can’t see through that would have to be used on the rear of a tablet or smartphone. Researchers at Michigan State University in the US have developed a new generation of clear solar panels that may one day be integrated right over the screen of your smartphone or tablet. That would allow the devices to generate power while you use them and increase run time.

The Michigan State University researchers aren’t the first to make transparent solar panels, but they are the first to make them without tinting of any sort. These new transparent panels are designed to glow in certain wavelengths of light and the glowing pushes the light to the edges of the sheet where the photovoltaic solar cells are placed.

The panels don’t absorb or emit any light in the visible spectrum making them look clear to the human eye. One big pitfall to these solar panels for now is that they aren’t very efficient. Right now, they are only able to convert energy at a rate of about 1%. The researchers hope to make the panels about 5% effective in future refinements of the clear panels. Exactly when this tech might make it to the commercial world is unknown. We have seen solar panel screen tech int eh past for powering smartphones, such as the Wysips screen we talked about back in 2011.

VIA: SlashGear