Light-to-Energy and Fuels Laboratory (LEaF-Lab)

Light-to-Energy and Fuels Laboratory (LEaF-Lab)

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The LEaF-Lab, located within the CNR-ICCOM Sesto Fiorentino Site, has as its main object of activity the design, synthesis and characterization of organic and organometallic compounds, as well as materials with potential applications in technologies for the conversion of solar energy. The latter range from new generation photovoltaic cells, capable of converting light into electricity, to photocatalytic systems for the sustainable production of hydrogen and solar fuels, to devices for the concentration and spectral modification of light radiation. Such activities are carried out in parallel with the study of new synthetic methodologies, necessary to obtain the desired compounds in an efficient and sustainable way, such as the development of reactions activated with microwaves or carried out in environmentally friendly neoteric solvents.

The LEaF-Lab research group has consolidated experience in the design, synthesis and characterization of heterocyclic compounds, as well as in the application of reactions catalyzed by organometallic species and transition metal complexes. The group is also able to design and manufacture small photovoltaic devices on a laboratory scale, and to test their energy performances.

Areas of application

  • Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs);
  • Perovskite solar cells (PSCs);
  • Building- and greenhouse-integrated photovoltaics (BIPVs);
  • Indoor photovoltaics;
  • Dye-sensitized photocatalysts (DSPs) for the production of H2 by photoreforming of alcohols and other organic compounds;
  • Luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs);
  • Innovative methodologies in organic and organometallic synthesis.


  • Organic and organometallic synthesis, also under inert atmosphere;
  • Green Chemistry: catalytic reactions, unconventional activation methods, use of neoteric solvents;
  • Organic chemistry purification techniques: column chromatography, crystallization, distillation.
  • Structural determination of compounds: NMR and IR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry;
  • UV-Vis spectroscopy, fluorescence emission spectroscopy;
  • Laboratory-scale manufacturing of photovoltaic devices;
  • Determination of the current / potential characteristics and the quantum efficiency of the devices.


  • Fume hoods equipped with vacuum-nitrogen lines for carrying out reactions in an inert atmosphere;
  • SHIMADZU UV-2600 UV-Vis spectrophotometer with temperature control module and integrating sphere;
  • JASCO FP-8300 spectrofluorimeter with temperature control module and integrating sphere;
  • ICA Ultraturrax high speed mechanical mixer and ultrasonic probe for the preparation of screen printing pastes;
  • AUREL mod. C-920 semiautomatic screen printing machine for the deposition of semiconductor thin films;
  • Programmable heating plate for the heat treatment of the deposited films;
  • Hot press for sealing the photovoltaic cells;
  • ABET mod. SUN 2000 class AAA solar simulator (illuminated surface 10 × 10 cm2);
  • AGILENT mod. B2901A source-meter unit for the electrical and electrochemical characterization of photovoltaic devices.

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