Pranava Pakala working in a lab.

Green experts 2023: Pranava Pakala, Tampere University

News article

The goal of the green transition is to combat climate change and biodiversity loss and to build an ecologically sustainable welfare society based on a carbon-neutral circular economy. Harnessing the skills of TEK members in the green transition is particularly important. Here is one of these green experts.

Logo and text: TEK's theme year, The Green Transition.

1. Your name?

Pranava Pakala

2. What and where have you studied?

MSc. (Tech) Electronics and Nanotechnology at Aalto University

3. Where do you work (title/position and name of organization)?

Research Assistant in the Hybrid Solar Cells Group, Materials Science and Environmental Engineering, Tampere University. I was doing my master’s thesis research work here. My contract just ended. I am currently in the process of writing my thesis.

4. Can you describe your work, what do you do?

My research is focused on developing novel lead-free perovskite inspired materials that act as semiconductors for solar cells. Conventional perovskite materials are based on lead, and it has serious and debilitating consequences on humans and the natural ecosystem, so my work is focused on finding new materials that aim to perform similarly to lead (potentially), but without the toxic substances.

5. How does your work contribute to the green transition?

My work contributes to the green transition by addressing the challenges posed by conventional lead-based perovskites. These challenges include toxicity concerns during material synthesis, device fabrication, and end-of-life disposal. My research aims to ensure the sustainability and safety of the perovskite solar cell technology by reducing its overall environmental footprint.

6. How did you end up as a green expert in your current job and what does working with the green transition mean to you?

I knew that I wanted to work in renewables ever since I began my bachelor’s studies six years ago. Back then, I gained some preliminary insight into this broad area through internships in energy storage and the manufacturing of silicon solar cells, for instance. During my master’s studies, I decided to switch to exploring organic semiconductors and perovskite materials and here I am! I’d say the green transition signifies a paradigm change in how economic progress is viewed by the stakeholders involved. Businesses and economies can certainly flourish without sacrificing the environment and I am proud that I got the opportunity to play a miniscule role in help create this balance between ecological sustainability and human prosperity.

7. Name one thing that anyone can do to promote/advance green transition?

One of our greatest responsibilities as inhabitants of this planet is to make conscious and aware choices. We often don’t think about the larger impact of each of the choices we make every day such as buying groceries, for instance. While this topic is very nuanced and highly contentious, but I often approach big corporations with a certain level of suspicion and try to evaluate them on their commitment to sustainability. I think this knowledge can empower people to make informed choices.

8. What should be done next to promote/advance the green transition?

This is related to what I previously stated. I believe it is essential to empower people to make mindful choices and this can only be done by raising awareness. In today’s day and age where we are bombarded with a variety of opinions from every side, it has become more important than ever to consider the implications of our actions.