Solar Energy Materials and Systems

The research group of Prof. Kati Miettunen studies solar energy materials and systems. The focus of the research is improving stability of emerging solar technologies as well as designing sustainable materials, e.g. bio-based alternatives. There is also a new opening in developing solar energy systems namely for Nordic conditions.


Bio-based materials for Emerging Solar Technologies – BioEST

BioEST project is funded by Academy of Finland (2018-2024) and it focuses on utilizing bio-based material for emerging solar technologies to replace conventional rare materials and simultaneously increase the device lifetime. In this project, we also combine experimental studies with modelling to understand the degradation mechanisms of emerging solar cells and to predict the device lifetime to accelerate the aging studies.

Multifunctional, high performance cellulose-based substrates for photovoltaics and optoelectronics –SUBSTAINABLE

SUBSTAINABLE project is related to bilateral Finnish-Swedish Tandem Forest Values programme (2020-2022). The other partners in the project are Prof. Jaana Vapaavuori (Aalto University, Finland) and Dr. Tiffany Abitbol (RISE, Sweden).

Matching solar energy production and electricity consumption with bifacial solar cells in Nordic latitudes

This project is funded by Finnish Cultural Foundation (2020-2023) and it is a joint project with Prof. Pekka Heikkinen (Aalto University, Finland). The idea in this project is to investigate bifacial solar panel systems in Nordic conditions where they can match better the energy production in private households with own solar energy production. One major challenge is integration of vertically mounted bifacial solar cell in build environment, which is why this is a joint project between solar energy engineers and architects.

Nordic network on smart light-conversion textiles beyond electric circuits – beyond-e-textiles

This is Nordic network project (2021-2025) funded by NordForsk multidisciplinary funding call. Today’s e-textiles require electric circuits and batteries that are brittle, bulky, often prevent maintenance of the textile and hinder customer acceptance. These rigid conductive elements can be made redundant due to the possibilities enabled by the design of novel yarns. In our vision, different photoresponsive molecules and nanoparticles embedded in these new yarns can directly convert photons into heat, actuation, or triggering a colour change as well as act as catalysers for photocleanable fabrics. Hence, the aim of this project is to develop smart textiles that bypass the need for electric circuits and directly transform solar – or other ambient - illumination into useful action.  Moreover, we aim to enhance Nordic integrity in exchanging the best practices of teaching design thinking, as well as facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration between scientists, engineers, designers and artists. The other partners of this project are Prof. Jaana Vapaavuori (Aalto University, Finland), Dr. Anne Louise Bang (VIA University College, Denmark), Prof. Delia Dumitrescu (University of Borås, Sweden), and Prof. Thomas Pausz (Iceland University of The Arts).

Finnish Research Infrastructure for Characterization and Aging of Surfaces and Materials for the Local Businesses and Environmental Economy (Casual Bee)

The purpose of the Casual Bee research infrastructure is to serve as a platform for collaboration between local industries as well as to strengthen research excellence in the field of materials characterization and aging. The strong research focus on materials science at University of Turku, coupled with the recent expansion of the materials engineering education creates a possibility to build up larger infrastructure to support both the scientific and the business community. The departments from University of Turku participating in this project are Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Physics and Astronomy, and Chemistry. The Casual Bee project is funded by Academy of Finland (2020-2021).

Academic host for PoDoCo project on solar materials

This projects is funded by the post docs in companies foundation (2021-2023) and University of Turku is the academic host/support for this project.

Ecodesign of solar technologies for urban environment – ECOSOL

The ECOSOL project investigates the retrieval of critical materials from photovoltaic systems. The researchers aim to understand how materials selection affects the recycling of solar cells and develop solar-panel structures that allow commercially viable reuse or recycling. The overall goal of the multidisciplinary consortium is to design sustainable solar-energy technology.

The other partners are Prof. Pekka Heikkinen and Prof. Annukka Santasalo-Aarnio (both Aalto University). The project is funded by Academy of Finland (2022-2025).

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