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How Italian researchers have transformed windows in solar panels

How the research group of the University of Milan-Bicocca developed this new innovative technology

How Italian researchers have transformed windows in solar panels

Claudia Astarita


It seems very hard to believe that a window could work as a solar panel to provide energy for a whole house. But this utopia is about to come true. A research team at the University of Milan-Bicocca has developed particular plastic plates, made up of special nano-particles that will work as source of energy.

In particular, the scientific term of these plastic plates is "Luminescent Solar Concentrators"(LSC). They can also be glass plates, provided with the above-mentioned nano-particles, better known as "cromophors".  With regard to their functioning, a part of light is transmitted through the window and absorbed by the nano-particles. Later it is put back at an infra-red wavelength not perceivable by human eye and then led to the solar cell positioned at the edges of the widow.

This new technology presents a number of advantages. Firstly, it has a better energy efficiency since these new panels absorb light from the whole solar spectrum. Secondly, LSCs fit in any context. In fact, they are colourless and therefore perfectly able to adapt to any urban setting. Last but not least, the innovative panels are fully sustainable and eco-friendly. The nano-particles are constituted by alloys of different elements that bond together are not toxic.

The beautiful minds involved in this innovative project belonged to the University of Milan-Bicocca, along with those from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Hunter McDaniel from the company UbiQD. The European Union and Cariplo Foundation financed the initiative and the ground-breaking findings were published on the scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology.

LSCs represent a remarkable technological step forward characterizing the urban scene in the cities of the future.  As stressed by Sergio Brovielli, one of the researchers of the Bicocca Team, "Not only the roof could be a source of solar energy but all the parts of a building", moving towards a better self-sustainability.

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