The overall objective of LIGHT-CAP is to provide new solutions for the solar-powered, low-cost, lightweight and compact generation and storage of clean energy by coupling solar energy conversion and storage. LIGHT-CAP offers a solution in which the light absorption, charge separation and accumulation are combined in the same set of materials by exploiting multiple and reversible charge transfer processes in stable nanoscale components that are powered solely by light. LIGHT-CAP implements the cooperative properties of a material system capable of storing and transferring multiple delocalized charges after light absorption and therefore provide extremely high specific capacity and superior stability with respect to organic redox molecules and offer the additional prospect of higher energy density and longer cyclability. LIGHT-CAP proposes to use only low-cost materials such as organic nanostructures and nanocrystals, with a focus on environmentally friendly, Earth abundant and non-toxic materials, plus the additional cost benefit delivered by solution processing. The radically new, compact and single unit technology for light-powered energy conversion and accumulation targeted by LIGHT-CAP is exemplified by innovative and unprecedented device design finding similarity with flow cell batteries and solid-state electrolytic-like capacitors but with the benefit of exploiting in-situ the energy that is provided by the sun. The technology offered by LIGHT-CAP will be especially suitable for stand-alone solar energy conversion and storage systems in mobile devices and remote locations, but at the same time, the low cost of this technology and its implementation through all-liquid architectures, will set the basis for its future exploitation in large area systems too. LIGHT-CAP structures around the study of hybrid systems based on 0D nanocrystal photo-capacitors (NCPCs) and well-defined and electronically controlled graphene quantum dots (GQDs) inks that, together, can perform sunlight harvesting, conversion, and storage into delocalized electrical charges, followed by the possibility of a controlled, on-demand release. In this picture, LIGHT-CAP targets to exploit multi-electron processes to develop light driven electrolytes and electrodes with superior stability and energy density and their incorporation into emerging, state-of-the-art systems that can directly store the energy of the sun.
Scientific and technological contributions to the foundation and consolidation of a radically new future technology. LIGHT-CAP will take a step towards the full exploitation of the spectrum of the Sun by implementing a totally new technology based on a groundbreaking approach that encompasses the two fundamentals of clean energy harvesting and storage to deliver them into one single item. The realization of a similar technology will allow a genuine step-change into the way energy devices are conceived, realized and exploited, outpacing all current mind-sets and beliefs and enabling the access to renewables to a wider public. LIGHT-CAP aim requires fundamental understanding in the three different relevant fields of materials hybridization, optoelectronic behaviour and device engineering to be established. Each of these scientific aspects will have a major contribution to set the foundations for the development of this future emerging technology.
Potential for future returns in terms of societal or economic innovation or market creation. LIGHT-CAP, will implement a revolutionary method that goes beyond the established semiconductor and battery technologies, to pave the way to future portable devices able to self-recharge under daylight and store excess energy in a unique, dimensionally limited and even flexible structure. LIGHT-CAP is going to show not only a pure establishment of fundamentally new compact energy conversion/storage technologies, but will make sure that this technologies can compete with current ones on the market, by demonstrating the full capability of the hybrid devices that we propose. The success of LIGHT-CAP will inevitably influence the future investment portfolio of semiconductor solar cell companies. Indeed, LIGHT-CAP’s light-energy conversion/storage technology will make available advanced high-tech service tools, new jobs in high-end technological companies and spin-off companies, new market opportunities and strengthen the competitiveness of Europe as a high-end technology base.
Build-up of a goal oriented interdisciplinary community (within and beyond the consortium). In LIGHT-CAP we create a new scientific and technical community through collaborations between researchers in usually non-overlapping fields, by setting the common goal to beat current limitations and incompatibilities existing between light harvesting/conversion and energy storage technologies. Additionally, the incorporation of the solar cells paradigm of light-induced charge separation at an interface with those of charges accumulation typical of super-capacitors and batteries, will creates a common interest to these so far not much interacting research communities.
Emergence of an innovation ecosystem around a future technology promoted by LIGHT-CAP. In LIGHT-CAP we bring together a multidisciplinary network of materials scientists, spectroscopists, and engineers to establish a solid baseline of knowledge in three fundamentally different fields: design of hybrid nano-systems, light-induced multiple charges separation and low-cost devices fabrication. In LIGHT-CAP we merge these three different concepts that usually lie in non-overlapping fields or poorly bring to small, proof-of-concept superpositions, into one groundbreaking technology. This is only possible through the cross-fertilization of different disciplines that brings these areas together, creating a new interdisciplinary community and innovative ecosystem.
Climate change or the environment, or bring other important benefits for society. By analyzing the aims and scopes of the EU programs, LIGHT-CAP is pursuing the development of top-level research in one of the most critical fields in the EU and worldwide that is the conversion of solar energy and its accumulation for next use “on-demand”. LIGHT-CAP will pave the way for technological exploitation of new prototype devices, with potential benefits not only from the viewpoint of fundamental science, but also for social life and development of a sustainable future. The transfer of knowledge produced by LIGHT-CAP to European academic institutions and companies will perhaps even allow the implementation of new capacities that will strengthen the overall impact of our research and industrial entities. An active cooperation in the field of science and technology will lead to capacity building for skilled occupations, which can leverage the efforts of the European Commission to attain a globally competitive position for European R&D.
LIGHT-CAP has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101017821