Innovative technologies for low-cost conversion of solar energy

Welcome to the research group website of Nadia Camaioni

Solar energy can produce much more electricity than required by human needs and represents a solution to the well-known problems caused by fossil fuels. The research activity of Camaioni’s group focuses on innovative photovoltaic technologies for the conversion of solar energy at low-cost. The reduction of costs of photovoltaic systems can be achieved either by developing competitive technologies for solar cell production or by concentrating the solar flux: current research topics in the group include organic solar cells and luminescent solar concentrators. Click here for an overview of the activity of Camaioni's group.

Organic solar cells

Organic solar cells are the answer to the increasing demand for ultra-thin, light-weight, large-area, and flexible photovoltaic modules. They are made of unconventional, abundant, and chip soluble materials that can be printed at low temperature over any substrate. The research activity on organic solar cells mainly deals with the investigation of solution-processed bulk-heterojunction structures, made of blends between a conjugated polymer and a fullerene derivative.

Luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs)

LSCs are simple optical systems consisting of a flat plate made of a highly transparent matrix, usually poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), in which small amounts of luminescent dyes are dispersed. The dyes absorb part of the incoming sunlight and isotropically re-emit with their characteristic spectrum. Most of the emitted light is trapped into the plate and is guided toward its side-edges by total internal reflection, thus realizing the concentration of solar flux. Compared with common solar concentrators, made of lens and mirrors, LSCs are cheap, flat, light in weight, static (solar tracking is not required) and particularly suited for building integration. The current approach of the group for this research topic is the investigation of environmentally friendly alternatives to PMMA as transparent matrices, such as biopolymers and natural compounds.