I find myself increasingly interested in materials science and how quantum leaps in energy efficiency are made possible by rethinking some of the most basic materials inside a device. In the case of the LCD screen, that component is a thin film called a polarizer.
All LCD screens, whether they be on your cell phone, computer or television, require a polarizing film to convert the display's back light into the image that you see on your screen. Unfortunately that polarizer is very thick and only allows 50 percent of the total light to shine through:
The PolarBrite technology by California-based startup Agoura (top) replaces that polarizer film with a more transparent film that uses a lattice of tiny wires to do the filtering.
This simple solution may ease the panic taking place right now in the television industry as a result of a new efficiency law currently in review in California which would force television manufacturers to make their devices 33 percent more efficient by 2011 and 49 percent more efficient by 2013.
The Consumer Electronics Association is vehemently opposed to the law, saying that the exorbitant costs associated with making their televisions compliant would hurt retailers and limit consumer choice.
But now they may not have such an easy excuse. The polarizer film developed by Agoura is cost neutral and simply by the fact that it allows more light to pass through to the front of the screen, means much less power is required to produce the light display. Swapping out the old film for the new wire polarizer would result in a 30 percent energy savings on a typical screen, which takes it just short of the 2011 standard at no cost.
For a very detailed explanation about how the technology works check out the full white paper on Wire Grid Polarizers (PDF).