Department of Engineering Sciences and Mathematics, Luleå University of Technology
Photo of Alberto Vomiero
funded by


Exploiting solar light is one of the main challenges that could significantly contribute to solve the present world energy issues. The photovoltaic and the thermoelectric effects are among the most promising.

The photovoltaic effect directly generates electric power after absorbing solar light, and the thermoelectric effect indirectly generates electric power after absorbing heat from the Sun. The project aims at investigating a new way to exploit solar radiation, by combining the photovoltaic and thermoelectric effects using nanowire arrays (very similar to a miniaturized grassland).


The idea is to absorb both the visible and the infrared part of the solar spectrum (which we cannot see with our eyes, but still is there) using a composite nanostructure. In our scheme, the two processes will occur simultaneously, improving the efficiency of the conversion from light to electric power, towards a “panchromatic” absorption of Sun light. The project is based on the very peculiar optical and electrical characteristics of materials at nanoscale, organized in arrays of nanowires. We aim at solving the intrinsic limitations of the photovoltaic and thermoelectric processes: poor matching between the absorption properties of solar cells and the different “colors” forming the full spectrum of the Sunlight, and the low density of electric charges in thermoelectric devices.

November 2015

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