Elena Akulenko profile picture
Doctoral Student, Materials Engineering
M.Sc. (Tech.)
Developing eco-design for solar cells to support their recycling.

Areas of expertise

Solar cells
circular economy
innovation management


Being a registered Patent Attorney with 10+ years’ experience in patent law and IP management, I pursue a PhD in Materials Engineering at University of Turku. Originally, I received a master’s degree in Chemistry from Saint-Petersburg State University in 2009. Then I successfully passed a master's programme on Global Management of Innovation and Technology from LUT University in 2020. This unique background both in chemistry and business areas supports my current research on profitable and feasible recycling of solar cells under supervision of Professor Kati Miettunen.


Patenting in the field of Chemistry


The aim of my research is to create recyclable structures for different solar technologies to 1) prevent release of toxic chemicals to environment and 2) enable retrieval of critical and rare materials from degraded devices. The recycling of silicon solar technologies struggles with commercial viability and emerging high performance, low-cost technologies such as perovskite solar cells contain, e.g. lead. I develop insight on materials side to guide research towards sustainable solar cell structures as well as build demonstrations of solar cell eco-designs. Besides technical feasibility, it is pivotal to reach economic profitability of recycling to ensure maximum global impact.


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