Apple is reportedly looking for thin film engineers with experience in the solar industry, signaling an interest in further extending the life of its mobile devices via solar power. According to a report on todaysiphone.com, Apple is focused on engineers from either the solar or semiconductor industries.
Given that a job posting for the title cites desired qualifications such as working with Asian suppliers, experience in solar manufacturing and “a deep understanding of the vendors, equipment and technologies in the thin-films ecosystem,” it appears that the company is beyond the early development stage.
Apple may be one of three mobile manufacturers working with French startup SunPartner Group, developer of a thin-film solar panel for mobile devices. According to a report in IEEE’s Spectrum, SunPartner is working with three mobile device makers to create prototypes that will hit the market early next year. Besides Apple, one of the three unnamed mobile device makers is Nokia, according to WMPoweruser.
Here’s a video posted by SunPartner’s President and Co-Founder Ludovic Deblois on how its technology works:
Apple and SunPartner are by no means the only ones eyeing solar for mobile devices, and they won’t be first to market. Around 2009, solar phones were the talk of the town, when Samsung debuted its Crest Solar E1107 and Blue Earth. In 2010, Sharp introduced its Solar Hybrid SH6230C for the Chinese market. Those devices carried their solar panels on their back, which may explain why they never took off. Not many folks like to leave their phones face down and miss all those messages, observed IEEE’s Spectrum.
Others currently working on mobile solar panels include Ubiquitous Energy, which is developing transparent panels and UCLA, where researchers have developed a panel that is 70 percent transparent to the naked eye. The University of Cambridge is also developing thin film solar cells to lie within a phone’s screen.
Apple did not have an immediate response when requested to comment.