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New Research: SOLAR-PLUS

Maximizing the Efficiency of Luminescent Solar Concentrators by Implanting Resonant Plasmonic Nanostructures

SOLAR-PLUS is a four-year interdisciplinary research project in optical electromagnetic modeling, material engineering and nanotechnology fabrication, whose aim is to reduce the cost of harvesting solar energy in Luminescent Solar Concentrators (LSCs) by exploiting advanced nanophotonic concepts. The main technical objective of the proposed work is to significantly improve the energy conversion efficiency of a typical monolayer LSC system, which currently stands at <4%, by harnessing the interplay phenomena between fluorescence and localized surface Plasmon resonances. The objectives of the project are: i) To understand the fundamental interactions between plasmonics and fluorescent molecules and through the gained physical insight to derive a set of design rules for metallic nanoparticles fabrication tailored to LSC applications, ii) to develop a generic simulation platform that combines nanoscale and macroscale modeling, to allow for rapid prototype performance assessment before proceeding to expensive fabrication, iii) to fabricate highly efficient prototype plasmonic-LSCs and, iv) to explore completely new research avenues that can bring about radical improvements to LSC efficiency. Improving the energy conversion efficiency of LSCs and reducing their cost are important steps towards the commercial viability of this technology, which will assist in the EUs efforts to limit its dependence on fossil fuels.

The project is funded by an EU Marie-Curie Career Integration Grant and led by Dr Ioannis Papakonstantinou