Owners of Apple devices such as iPods and iPhones may soon be able to charge them up by leaving them out in the sun.
Apple has filed a patent for a technology which would enable a layer of solar cells to be inserted under a touch-sensitive screen of the sort used in the iPhone.
The patent, should it be awarded, has the potential to make the iPhone a truly portable device, dispensing with the need for it to be connected to a power supply by wires.
There is usually little room for solar panels on portable devices, once space taken up by the screen and keypad is taken into account — a fact which has plagued previous attempts to power MP3 players and mobile phones via the sun.
Apple's patent would get around the problem by stacking the solar cells underneath both the touch-sensitive screen and the LCD. That would potentially allow the full 2.4-inch by 4.5-inch glass face of the iPhone to operate as a solar panel.