Sustainable Responsivity: The Integration of Nanosolar Skin for Built Environment and Mobility

EPA Grant Number: SU835701
Title: Sustainable Responsivity: The Integration of Nanosolar Skin for Built Environment and Mobility
Investigators: Azarbayjani, Mona , Walter, Michael
Current Investigators: Azarbayjani, Mona , Oloonabadi, Maryam Ahmadi , Zarrabi, Amir Hosseinzadeh , Cohen, Daniel , Kassel, Jennifer , Ren, Keming , Walter, Michael , Pike, Victoria
Institution: University of North Carolina at Charlotte
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2014 through August 14, 2015
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Sustainable and Healthy Communities , P3 Challenge Area - Air Quality , P3 Awards , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


This proposal is an interdisciplinary research project that focuses on the study of integrating next generation nanoscale solar skin in order to reduce the solar heat gain and glare while producing electricity. Building envelope is one of the most important design parameters determining indoor physical environment related to thermal comfort, visual comfort and even occupancy working efficiency, thus affecting energy usages in buildings. As the desire for a fully glazed façade and higher transparency among designers is growing, the environmental impact, problems of heat losses, summer overheating and glare are issues of increasing concern. The task is to find a way to automatically resolve these issues without compromising aesthetics of the façade and occupant’s comfort while simultaneously generating power.

The proposed novel bio mimicry approach inspired by the principles of photosynthesis in plants will be used to maximize light harvesting in a silicon micro wire array in an integrated adaptive façade. The primary objective of this research is to carry out a feasibility study of an integrated nanosolar façade system by exploring its performance, and fabrication challenges.


The primary goals of the nanoskin façade design research are as follows:

  1. developing the nanoscale responsive skin material, and carry out a performance assessment in the area of energy demands and energy production potential.
  2. investigate the possibility of integrating the prototype in different forms and applications of building façades, and mobile applications because they offer novel approaches for solar-to-electric energy conversion leading to high-efficiency devices via simple manufacturing and transportation. The nanosolar skin thin film does not block the views and does not impact on the aesthetic aspects.
  3. Fabricate a 1:1 nanosolar skin prototype developed from performance-based design strategy


The investigators will develop an adaptive system prototype that integrates silicon wire photovoltaics that will respond to the solar light intensity on a façade. These types of nanowire devices have been produced previously, however, the new important element will be the use of thermoresponsive polymers to effect the silicon wire orientation making the film opaque.

Expected Results:

Results are expected to impact the building industry by validating efficiency, affordable constructability, and sustainable operation of nanosolar skin devices. It further broadens the knowledge base on power generation façade technologies that contribute to carbon neutral building practices.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 5 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Energy efficiency, green buildings, façade, nanosolar skin, daylighting technology, integrated design, performance-based design, Energy, sustainability

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report