Nano-antennas for artificial photosynthesis

Title of the research project

Lush Art: Luminescent Solar Heterostructures for Artificial photosynthesis

Scientific area

Physical Chemistry ,Solar Energy, Photocatalysis

Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow

Francesca Stefania Freyria


LuSH Art project aims at developing new hybrid nanomaterials which are light powered by energy migration and to fabricate new luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) taking inspiration from a tree leaf.

Description of the research project 

Reduction of CO2 level in the atmosphere is a crucial problem for the life survival on Earth and most of the countries, as well as the European Union, have set challenging goals to decrease it in the future decades. The production of solar fuels from water splitting and CO2 reduction by photocatalysis can be a key tool in this direction. Although the progresses in this field are fast, both scientific and technical important issues are still open. In multielectron chemistry, the solar light absorption by the sensitizer is the limiting step. In nature, plants and algae are highly efficient at converting CO2 in fuels working at low light flux thanks to energy transfer. Molecular antennas, transferring energy among them, funnel it to a single catalytic reaction center. This is the inspiring principle of LuSH Art, where new light harvesting antennas based on self-assembly aggregation, either from organic molecules or quantum dots, will be used to fast deliver energy to reactive centers. These heterostructures will be integrated in a new LSC for artificial photosynthesis. This project, which involves industrial collaboration with the Renewable Energy and Environmental R&D Center in Novara, has a multidisciplinary approach and its possible outcomes could impact several other research fields in chemistry and material science.

Impact on fellow career and on society 

Outcomes from this project will allow to better understand how to exploit solar light for a better world with less CO2 emissions.

The experience and the skills that Francesca S. Freyria has been gaining during the permanence in the Prof. M. Bawendi’s lab  (Dept of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA, USA) will be crucial for this project, which would have a great positive impact on her researcher career, allowing her to start a research field, highly complementary with the work carried on by other groups at the Politecnico of Torino.

Short CV of Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow

After a M.Eng. in Environmental Engineering, Francesca S. Freyria has received a European Ph.D. degree in Materials Science and Technology at Politecnico di Torino under the supervision of Prof. B. Bonelli. During her PhD, she visited Prof. J. Durrant’s lab at Imperial College, London, to work on Nb-doped hematite film for water splitting. In 2014, she joined Professor Bawendi’s group at MIT (MA, USA) as a PostDoc. Her research interests are the study of new heterostructured nanomaterials and mesoporous materials, and how to endow them with new properties for environmental remediation and for solar energy applications.


Barbara Bonelli, DISAT-Department of Appled Science and Technology, Politecnico di Torino

Partner Organisation

Renewable Energy and Environmental R&D Center, ENI, Novara, Italy

Lush Art project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 843439

  • Budget: 171.470 euro
  • Start date: 1/02/2020
  • End date: 31/01/2022