Andrea Alessi
2013, Italy
Luminescent concentrators of sunlight

A large-size Solar Concentrator to transform and transport solar energy more effectively

Manipulating solar light for better use in the production of renewable energy is Andrea Alessi's research goal. Alessi, researcher at ENI (the Italian Energy Company) has focused on the interaction between light radiations and new complex organic and organometallic molecular systems. By using such molecular systems, it is possible to trap photoconverted sunlight into plates, so that it can be transformed more easily into electricity (through photovoltaic cells) or into chemical energy (through photoelectrochemical cells).

Through the waveguide propagation effect, it may also be transported over large distances avoiding the use of mirrors or lenses as it happens with typical solar concentrators. Finally, the energy can be adapted and directed towards the solar cells at destination. The combined effect of these characteristics is that it has been possible to develop the first large-size, high-efficiency Luminescent Solar Concentrators (LSC) in the world.

Alessi carried out these researches at the ENI Donegani Research Centre for Non-Conventional Energy, located in Novara (Italy), where the photo-physical properties of these innovative molecules are investigated through ultrafast femtosecond laser spectroscopy. One of the first applications has been the first platform roof for the recharge of electrical bikes based on LSC technology at the ENI headquarters in Rome.