Intelligent Windows

Stories and People

Intelligent Windows

Solar energy as seen through the windows of the future.

Francesca Freyria is a young post-doc student at MITEI (the MIT Energy Initiative) with a bursary sponsored by Eni. She is studying new luminophores for use in luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs), the windows of the future. These tiny dot-shaped semiconductors, mere nanometres in size, are known as ‘quantum dots’ and are designed to absorb and re-emit light converted to specific wavelengths. In this interview Francesca provides more detail about an ambitious project with huge social and economic potential.

The mechanism is simple. Whether clear or coloured, these special plates absorb the sun’s light and re-emit it at a longer wavelength. The radiation gravitates towards the edges, as in an optical fibre, making them luminescent. Small photovoltaic cells then transform the radiation received into electricity.


This video showcases the first greenhouse built entirely of LSC panels. It was presented at the most recent Maker Faire in Rome and is one possible application for this innovative solar technology. From greenhouses to photovoltaic windows and noise barriers, whenever transparency is required LSC responds.

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Smart windows

Francesca Freyria

I hope luminescent solar concentrators will soon be used in buildings and that people will be able to have ‘smart windows’, which they can use to recharge their mobile or turn on the lights.

Francesca Freyria

Renewables and energy storage, decarbonisation and safety in the workplace. Eni and MIT are working together on the transition to a "low-carbon" and safe energy model. The technologies resulting from this collaboration will change the way we produce and consume energy. Marco Bistolfi, R&D external co-operations manager, and Massimiliano Pieri, vice president for co-operation with MIT, discuss the results of a mutually-beneficial alliance that has been in place since 2008.

When academia and industry work together