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What if solar cells could be made out of fish scales?

Today, we can develop solar technologies with a variety of materials and production methods. Many of these emerging technologies use rare and expensive materials, limiting their large-scale production. Also, some energy production and storage technologies depend on toxic materials like lead, contributing to environmental disasters in countries burdened by waste management. If we want to facilitate the global impact of these technologies, we need to replace rare, expensive, and toxic materials with cheap, abundant, and safe alternatives. Currently, we are exploring how natural materials like wood or organic byproducts –  or even waste like fish scales – could be used for solar cells. We can already replace expensive and rare metals like platinum with carbonized biomaterials made from industrial side streams – but what are the untapped possibilities of wood?

Kati Miettunen, Academy research fellow