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May 6th 2013


A deeper glance into IIT-OMET joint project: SOLAR PRINT

We met Dr. Marco Carvelli, one of IIT researchers dedicated to SOLAR PRINT, an industrial joint project between IIT and OMET, world-leading company in the field of printing machines. The project will develop low cost solar panels through roll to roll technology.

What is the final aim of the Solarprint project?

Solar Print will develop a technology to produce, on an industrial scale, large-area polymeric solar cells which are lightweight, flexible, cheap and easy to integrate, thanks to a continuous “Roll-to-Roll” printing technique.
What are the advantages and drawbacks of the technology you are developing?
Photovoltaic modules produced by means of this technology, based on solution-processable organic semiconductors, will have a competitive cost, comparable to or lower than the silicon solar cells now on the market, and they will be “green” thanks to a lower energy consumption needed for their fabrication, to a shorter payback time and to a lower production of equivalent green-house gases. This technology will allow the fabrication of flexible solar cells on a plastic substrate, in the shape of long ribbons, colored and semi-transparent, paving the way to novel applications, and markets, which are innovative, and at the same time alternative with respect to silicon ones.
What markets are you targeting?
A first opportunity is represented by delocalized energy generation. With this expression I refer to the possibility to integrate the  photovoltaic modules into common objects which become “smart”, since they start to generate energy for us. I am thinking about, for example, bags and helmets: the generated power can be exploited to charge a mobile phone or a laptop. Integration in even larger objects, such as camping tents and sun-umbrellas, opens-up new opportunities. One could charge-up a battery inside the tent during the day and use that energy to light-up LEDs during the night; or photovoltaic energy can be used to charge-up your phone or tablet while laying on the beach.
A second type of market is related to the integration in buildings, above all large tensile structures, i.e. those cases where lightweight, flexibility and color are crucial features. Imagine for example balloon-like structure such as the Beijing National Aquatics Center: the possibility to cover the transparent, plastic cover of the building with photovoltaic panels can’t be satisfied with the heavy traditional panels, but can be met by employing lightweight plastic photovoltaic modules.
Given the product-oriented nature of the project, are you collaborating with industrial partners?

Solar Print is today a joint-lab between OMET s.r.l. (Lecco, ITALY - and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia. A 6 months startup activity contract has been signed between IIT and OMET on November 2011, extended in July 2012 with a  2-years collaboration contract. The project benefits from the specific know-how of the Center for Nano Science and Technology @PoliMi (IIT) and of Politecnico di Milano in the field of organic solar cells and from the printers technology of OMET, company leader in the design and production of industrial printing lines for self-adhesive labels, flexible packaging and paper.


                Solar Print flexible, large area panel with printed electrodes                                            A shot from Rai3 program  Geo&Geo where Dr. Carvelli explained Solarprint project

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