The new silicon NanoFarm in Rovereto
The NanoFarm project started in November 2018 thanks to the meeting of Glass to Power, the Nanosciences Laboratory of the Department of Physics of the University of Trento and the financing of the Autonomous Province of Trento.
The NanoFarm project aims at developing the innovative technology of solar concentrators patented by Glass to Power using economical and environmentally friendly materials. In this respect the Nanosciences laboratory has a great experience in the synthesis and characterization of silicon nanoparticles (“quantum dots”) for applications in the photonic and sensorial field.
The Nanosciences laboratory is a multidisciplinary research group of about twenty researchers with different backgrounds ranging from physics, chemistry, engineering and biology. The Nanosciences laboratory is internationally renowned thanks to the international collaborations it has built over time and its strong interactions with hi-tech multinationals.
In the last two decades, the laboratory has developed the use of silicon-based materials as substrates to realize complex optical circuits (reconfigurable optical nodes, frequency converters, random number optical generators, third generation photovoltaics) and optical sensors (with applications in molecular recognition and analysis of food allergies).
The laboratory was the first to develop a synthesis (like “sol-gel”) in which the quantum dots are formed directly inside the glass, rather than being produced with alternative techniques and then incorporated into the glass matrix. This strategy allows a greater control on the surface state of the nanostructures, which in turn is decisive in defining the final optical properties of the material.
Within the NanoFarm project, the Nanosciences laboratory’s objectives are:
1. optimizing the synthesis of silicon nanostructures to make them compatible with the production chain of Glass to Power’s solar concentrators;
2. scaling up the production from typical laboratory quantities (milligrams/day) to a pre-industrial stage (several grams/day).