A new startup founded at the MIT Sloan School of Management has developed a technology that targets mass adoption of solar panels in the residential segment.

The MIT spinout, Sistine Solar has created a new technology called Solarskin which aims to encourage more homeowners to install photovoltaic systems by creating custom solar panels designed to mimic home facades and other environments. Solarskin is a layer that can be imprinted with any image and embedded into a solar panel without interfering with the panel’s performance or efficiency. For instance, the panels can be matched to the homeowner’s rooftop, facade or lawn, or fitted with business logos, advertisements, or even a country’s flag.

The Solarskin employs selective light filtration to display an image while still transmitting light to the underlying solar cells. The Solarskin inventor says the technology works in a similar way to how advertisement on bus windows reflect some light to display an image, while allowing the remaining light through so passengers inside the bus can see out.

The Solarskin systems cost about 10 percent more than traditional panel installations.

 A winner of a 2013 MIT Clean Energy Prize, Sistine Solar has already proven itself as a rising ‘aesthetic solar’ startup – one of its pilot projects was featured on the Lifetime television series ‘Designing Spaces’ where the panels blended in with the shingle roof of a log cabin in Hubbardston, Massachusetts.


The first Solarskin installation was successfully completed last December in Norwell, Massachusetts with the 10-kilowatt system featuring panels that matched the cedar pattern on the house. The Cambridge-based startup has over 200 homes seeking installations, primarily in Massachusetts and California, where solar is in high demand.

Currently, Sistine is testing SolarSkin for efficiency, durability and longevity at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory under a DOE grant.