Bio-based materials for solar cells

Kati Miettunen*, Mahboubeh Hadadian, Joaquín Valdez García, Alicja Lawrynowicz, Elena Akulenko, Orlando J. Rojas, Michael Hummel, Jaana Vapaavuori

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

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Plant-based materials are emerging as an alternative to conventional components in advanced energy applications. Among these, energy harvesting from sunlight is highly attractive and, in fact, represents the fastest growing energy technology. This review addresses the broad field of solar cell science since plant-based components can be utilized in almost all solar technologies, and in certain photovoltaic technologies, they can fulfill most of the roles in photovoltaic devices. There is strengthened recent interest in developing sustainable materials options as well as new functionalities being developed for bio-based materials. This contribution describes the different options for plant-derived materials in photovoltaics and discusses their deployment feasibility. We focus on performance, lifetime, and embedded energy, all of which are critical to achieve—economically and sustainably–competitive photovoltaic devices. We address the tendency in the current literature for greenwashing, given that not all plant-based solutions are environmentally-sound at the device level. On the other hand, plant-based materials can offer functionalities that cannot be reached with currently used materials. This article is categorized under: Sustainable Energy > Solar Energy Emerging Technologies > Materials Sustainable Energy > Bioenergy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere508
Number of pages16
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024
MoE publication typeA2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review


  • cellulose
  • solar cells
  • substrate
  • wood-based materials


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