Building integrated photovoltaics: the future is greener.
An Italian research team including researchers from the Istituto di struttura della materia (Ism) of Consiglio nazionale delle ricerche in Rome, the University of Milano – Bicocca and Glass to Power developed an innovative material with a low environmental impact and high performance to make photovoltaics devices aesthetically integrated in buildings. The study has been published on Joule – Cell Press 
Left: transparent Plexiglas sheet containing dispersed organic material acting as luminescent solar concentrator (Lsc). Right: principle of operation of a Lsc solar cell.
Building integrated photovoltaics technologies stems from the need for practical and innovative solutions to incorporate solar-to-electricity conversion devices within buildings. An Italian research team, including researchers from the Istituto di struttura della materia (Ism) of Consiglio nazionale delle ricerche in Rome, the University of Milano – Bicocca and Glass to Power, contributed to this topical field by developing an highly efficient and environmentally friendly new material, used to realize transparent luminescent solar concentrators (LSC). The results of this study, published on Joule – Cell Press , demonstrate that devices based on such simple technology can reach high efficiencies in the conversion of solar energy in electrical power, comparable with those obtained by state-of-the-art materials in this kind of device, with the advantage of environmentally friendly synthesis processes.
“The functioning is based on an intrinsic property of several classes of organic molecules: the adrorption of solar light across a wide range of wavelength, followed by emission at a well separated and well defined wavelength”, Giuseppe Mattioli (Cnr-Ism) told. “Molecules having this features which are also thermally-stable and light-resistant are dispersed inside Plexiglas sheets for windows. The sheets act as efficient and cost-effective wavelet to trap the radiation and concentrate it at the sheet edges”. The sheets are mounted in a common window frame where thin and invisible photovoltaics cells convert the concentrated light to electricity.
Luca Beverina (University of Milano – Bicocca) added: “The main advantage in process innovation lyes in the usage of molecules which require a simple and fast synthesis, devoid of processing solvents and, therefore, intrinsically greener. The synthesis is performed using a mechano-chemical technique in which reactants are dry-mixed in a ball miller, ensuring high reaction rates at short contact time even without using solvents. This process allows to reach an unprecedented weight ratio between waste and final product (E factor, the most popular sustainability index in materials chemistry), 50 times lower than that related to molecules having similar efficiencies”.
The benefits don’t stop here: “As opposed to conventional, silicon-based photovoltaics devices -which are opaque and dark, or semi-transparent at most- our material permits to make transparent sheets, with obvious aesthetic and functional advantages”, Mattioli continued. “Moreover, this kind of device has wider positioning flexibility with respect to the sun than conventional solar panels, representing their ideal complement for diffuse generation of renewable electricity.”
Polymers beyond graphene: a research article involving Giorgio Contini and the SAMOS laboratory at ISM published on Nature Materials
Graphene’s isolation took the world by surprise and was meant to revolutionize modern electronics. However, it was soon realized that its intrinsic properties limit its use in relevant technologies. In an attempt to explore similar systems with more suitable properties, scientists have been studying a large variety of inorganic 2D systems, whose structure is similar to that of graphene. Another approach consists instead in using surface chemistry to make organic building blocks react, so as to realize organic analogues of graphene. These structures are accessible thanks to the versatile molecular engineering toolbox that surface reactions provide. However, problems such as low crystallinity and defect rich structures prevented the experimental observation and kept it for a long time only a playground for theoretical investigations. The realization of such a system would yield properties that suit the figure of merits for modern electronics, eventually addressing the ever-increasing heat conflict in chip design. Unfortunately, while small scale systems have been reported, the realization of such a structure at large scales has remained elusive.
Writing in Nature Materials, an international team of scientists from Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (Centre Energie, Matériaux et Télécommunications), McGill University and Lakehead University, both located in Canada, and the SAMOS laboratory of the Istituto di Struttura della Materia (CNR), led by Giorgio Contini, demonstrated the synthesis of large scale two-dimensional conjugated polymers, also thoroughly characterizing their electronic properties. The polymer’s band structure reveals both flat bands and a Dirac cone confirming theoretical predictions. The observed coexistence of both structures is of particular interest, since whereas Dirac cones yield massless charge carriers, necessary for technological applications, flat bands quench the kinetic energy of charge carriers and could give rise to intriguing phenomena such as the anomalous Hall effect, surface superconductivity or superfluid transport. This was achieved by combining the complementary expertise of organic chemists and surface scientists. Other scientists and students of ISM, namely Gianluca Galeotti, Dominik Dettmann, Asish K. Kundu, Luisa Ferrari, Paolo Moras, Polina Sheverdyaeva were involved in the research activity.
This work opens exciting new directions, both theoretical and experimental. The integration of this system into a device (e.g. transistors) may lead to outstanding performances. In addition, these results will foster more studies on a wide range of two-dimensional polymers with different lattice symmetries, thereby gaining further insights into the structure vs. properties of these systems. These materials – beyond graphene – could be then used for both their intrinsic properties as well as their interplay in new heterostructure designs.
This work was partially supported by a project Grande Rilevanza Italy-Quebec of the Italian Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale (MAECI), Direzione Generale per la Promozione del Sistema Paese.
Image of the synthesized material and its band structure
A paper by Emmanuele Cappelluti et al. was published on the cover of Physical Review Letters 122, 217002 (2019)
Color map of the Fano parameter 1/q in the T vs x plane for Ba1-xKxFe2As2
From the article:
Scaling of the Fano Effect of the In-Plane Fe-As Phonon and the Superconducting Critical Temperature in Ba1−xKxFe2As2
B. Xu, E. Cappelluti, L. Benfatto, B. P. P. Mallett, P. Marsik, E. Sheveleva, F. Lyzwa, Th. Wolf, R. Yang, X. G. Qiu, Y. M. Dai, H. H. Wen, R. P. S. M. Lobo, and C. Bernhard
First ever Solar Thermionic-Thermoelectric Generator released and discussed
An article published in the prestigious magazine Advanced Energy Materials (https://doi.org/10.1002/aenm.201802310) describes the concept, the development process of active materials and the demonstration of the first concentrated solar energy converter by combining thermionic and thermoelectric effects (ST2G – Solar Thermionic-Thermoelectric Generator). The innovative system, potentially capable of a conversion efficiency higher than 40%, is almost entirely developed within the CNR, by the DiaTHEMA Lab of the ISM in collaboration with the Institute of Science and Technology of Ceramic Materials (ISTEC) and the Tel Aviv University. The development of innovative materials and devices for the conversion of concentrated solar energy into electrical and thermal energy is a topic of great interest for the scientific and industrial world. The conversion modules developed by the CNR operate at temperatures between 700 and 1100 ° C, combining the thermionic and thermoelectric effects. To reach such temperatures, they must be irradiated by solar concentration systems, which collect solar radiation and concentrate it in small areas. The developed conversion modules combine the advantages of photovoltaic technology, the application of which in the solar concentration has proved to be limited due to the high flux of energy, and the solar thermodynamic systems, operating through a high temperature fluid that feeds specific engines, characterized by high efficiency but also by high cost and reduced scalability. The technology proposed by the CNR-ISM and ISTEC allows to exploit the advantages of both technologies: the absence of moving mechanical elements, high conversion efficiency, high operating temperature, compatibility with thermal energy storage, cogeneration and scalability. Elements of further innovation are the ultra-refractory materials developed, which take advantage of ultrafast pulse laser nanostructuring, combined with carbon-based materials in the form of thin films and with the ability of the CNR to be able to functionalize the chemical-physical properties of volume and surface for this specific application.
CASSINI PROJECT: Interdisciplinary Scientific Workshop
SCIENCE DEPARTMENT – ROMA TRE UNIVERSITY
ISM in CNR press release
An article reporting important results by ISM-CNR (J. Rau), CBM University of Rome and Thermo Fisher Scientific of Milan has been included in the today’s CNR press release. A new technique based on microscopy and Raman spectroscopy was developed, allowing the early detection of neoplasms. The original paper can be found here.
ISM@Tito Scalo on TGR Leonardo (RAI3)
TGR Leonardo (Science and Environment magazine) broadcasted a report on the laser applications developed in our laboratories at Tito
Scalo (PZ). The complete TV magazine issue can be found here.
The Premio Venezia 2017 of ICCC bestowed to Giorgio Contini from ISM
The 2017 edition of Premio Venezia, bestowed by the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada every year to outstanding Canadian businesses, people and institutions that maintain or develop working or business relations with Italy, had the collaboration for the production of new two-dimensional nanomaterials beyond graphene between ISM (G. Contini), INRS (F.Rosei) and McGill University (D. F. Perepichka) among its recipients.
MRS Bulletin July 2017 issue and related webinar by Daniele M. Trucchi
The new issue of MRS Bulletin is focused on Electron-Emission Materials.
In collaboration with Prof. Melosh of Stanford University, Dr. Trucchi acted as Guest Editor of this volume inspired by the new materials and physics that have recently reinvigorated the field of electron emission. Among the tackled topics, we can point out low-dimensionality materials, such as nanotubes and graphene, which stimulated the exploitation of new mechanisms for electron emission, as well as advanced materials with low work-function and physical effects as thermoelectronic energy conversion.
The July issue of MRS Bulletin (downloadable at the link https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/mrs-bulletin/issue/electronemission-materials/103E74325AC57252897670182492827B) will extensively deal these topics. It is also related to the webinar, that will be held from 18.00 to 19.30 (CET time) on July 26th, 2017 for free attendance with previous registration at the link http://www.mrs.org/electron-emission-materials-webinar. Anyway, the webinar will be recorded and it could be visible in the future.
An article by Andy Massey was published in the current issue of JPhys+ online magazine. The article cites a recent paper by ISM researchers about “Reconciliation between atomic and electronic structure periodicity in Si(111)-7×7”.
Dr. Julietta Rau recently published an article on Biophotonics world magazine showing some important results of a collaboration of our institute with the Pathology and Surgery Units of the Campus Bio-medico of Rome.
ISM, together with ITIA, is partner in the Consortium “Product Centric Recycling (PCRec)”, coordinated by ENEA, whose aim is to provide services to SMEs and external customers for the development and implementation of sustainable technologies for product centric recycling of raw materials. In particular ISM is involved for the development of new processes for the recovery of rare earth elements from waste permanent magnets. PCRec is a European Network of infrastructures financed by the European Institute of Innovation & Techology (EIT-Raw Materials).
download: Leaflet, Poster
ISM actively contributes to the European Researchers’ Night
Dissemination of research activities among the “general public” is one of the institutional activities of CNR. One of the events devoted to this purpose is the “European Researchers’ Night” , which takes place in fall. ISM actively contributed to this event this year, too.
At the Area di Ricerca di Tor Vergata, on September 30th (http://www.artov.rm.cnr.it/index.php/20-global-news/83-notte-europea-dei-ricercatori-2016) the STM laboratory was opened to the public, and Stefano Colonna and Fabio Ronci introduced to visitors of all ages the basic concepts of microscopy, the tunnel effect and crystal surfaces. Then the visitors have had the chance to see the microscope in operation on a real experiment.
A new book on “Ultra-High-Density Magnetic Recording: Storage Materials and Media Designs” edited by G. Varvaro and F. Casoli was published
Magnetic recording is presently the leading technology for mass data storage. Its dominant role has been reinforced by the success of cloud computing, which requires huge amounts of data to be stored and managed on a multitude of servers. Nonetheless, the hard-disk storage industry is presently at a crossroad as the current magnetic recording technologies are unable to achieve storage densities beyond 1Tbit/in2.
Pushing the recording density to the terabit regime requires new storage materials, novel recording schemes and media designs in order to solve signal-to-noise ratio, thermal stability and writability issues.
In this book, worldwide experts from university, public research institutions and industry collaborate to illustrate the most recent advances in magnetic recording from the media perspective and to highlight the future prospects of the technology. Theoretical, experimental and technological aspects are covered in a clear and comprehensive way making the book a reference for final year undergraduates, post-graduates and research professionals in the magnetic recording area.
The fundamentals of magnetism and magnetic recording are introduced in the first two Chapters, which pose the basis for a better understanding of the following chapters. Chapters 3 describes the main features of conventional perpendicular recording media, while the most promising technologies and materials for next generation magnetic recording are extensively treated in Chapters 4 to 7. Techniques and protocols for magnetic characterization of perpendicular recording media are illustrated in Chapter 8. Finally, Chapter 9 gives an overview of the emerging classes of magnetic memories.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Fundamentals of Magnetism (P. Allia, G. Barrera)
Chapter 2. Hard Disk Drives: Fundamentals and Perspectives (G. Bertero, G. Guo, S. Dahandeh, A. Krishman)
Chapter 3. Conventional Perpendicular Magnetic Recording Media (H.-S. Jung)
Chapter 4. Energy Assisted Magnetic Recording (E. Gage, K.-Z. Gao, J.-G. Zhu)
Chapter 5. L10-FePt Granular Films for Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording Media (K. Hono, Y.K. Takahashi)
Chapter 6. Exchange-Coupled Composite Media (F. Casoli, L. Nasi, F. Albertini, P. Lupo)
Chapter 7. Bit Patterned Magnetic Recording (D. Makarov, P. Krone, M. Albrecht)
Chapter 8. Magnetic Characterization of Perpendicular Recording Media (G. Varvaro, A.M. Testa, E. Agostinelli, D. Peddis, S. Laureti)
Chapter 9. New Trends in Magnetic Memories (R. Bertacco, M. Cantoni)
The contribution of Cnr research to Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) and their role in the Smart Specialization Strategy (S3) of Basilicata
On Dec. 4, 2015 at the Area della Ricerca di Potenza CNR (Tito Scalo) an event occured organized by our Institute and APRE Basilicata about “The contribution of Cnr research to Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) and their role in the Smart Specialization Strategy (S3) of Basilicata”. The event was an occasion for an in-depth analysis of KETs and about their role in the innovation path of the Lucanian territory. During the workshop CNR institutes belonging to Area della Ricerca di Potenza (ISM, IMAA e IBAM) showed their know-how in the KETs field and, starting from past cooperation initiatives (OSCAR, PRO-CULT, LDFS2 e CLAN4SENSE) proposed ideas for starting joint development and innovation processes with the local industries using such technologies. Prof. Donata Medaglini from Siena University (national delegate for Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Advanced Manufacturing Processes and Biotechnologies for HORIZON 2020), and the national representative for KETs, Dr. Serena Borgna (APRE) attended the workshop, giving an European perspective to the event. Some representatives of FESR 2014-2020 Management Authority and of “Dipartimento delle Politiche di Sviluppo, Lavoro, Formazione e Ricerca” of Regione Basilicata were also present.
During the event, the regional newscast interviewed our director Lorenzo Avaldi.
A delegation of researchers of the Area della Ricerca di Roma 1 attended the XII Congress of “Il Linguaggio della Ricerca” at the Area della Ricerca di Bologna.
Il Linguaggio della Ricerca (LdR) is a project promoted by researchers of the Area della Ricerca di Bologna of the National Research Council (CNR) and the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), active in various scientific disciplines.
The project is in collaboration with the schools of Bologna and is divided into several phases: the meeting between researchers and students through school presentations and exercises at the headquarters of the National Research Council in Bologna; the meeting with the experts of the disclosure, and finally, the production by students, information materials on the topics covered. This material will then be the subject of the annual conference during which messages will be awarded to the best work in each category.
From December 2015 also the schools in Rome can participate.