Cover image for Vol. 18 Issue 12

Editor: Greta Heydenrych; Editorial Board Chairs: Christian Amatore, Michael Grätzel, Michel Orrit

Impact Factor: 3.075

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2016: 8/35 (Physics Atomic Molecular & Chemical); 54/145 (Chemistry Physical)

Online ISSN: 1439-7641

Associated Title(s): Advanced Materials, ChemBioChem, ChemCatChem, ChemElectroChem, ChemPhotoChem, ChemSusChem, Small

June 25, 2010

Michael Grätzel wins 2010 Millennium Technology prize

Michael Grätzel wins 2010 Millennium Technology prizeChemPhysChem Board Member Michael Grätzel of the Lausanne Federal Technology Institute EPFL (Switzerland) is the winner of this year's Millennium Technology prize. The researcher received the award on June 9th in Helsinki for the invention of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs), a new technology that could be used to produce electricity-generating windows and low-cost solar panels. The Millennium Technology prize is the largest technology prize in the world. It is awarded every two years in recognition of innovations that improve human life and encourage sustainable development.

Mohammad Khaja Nazeeruddin (Research Associate at EPFL and World Class University Professor at Korea University), who has worked with Grätzel for about 23 years, says that DSSCs do exactly that: "Energy and environment are an essential part of our life. Therefore, anybody who develops novel concepts to produce energy in an environmentally acceptable fashion deserves this prize", he says. Dye-sensitized solar cells –also called Grätzel cells– use organic dyes on titanium dioxide to capture sunlight. According to the Millennium Prize's International Selection Committee, the excellent price/performance ratio of these novel devices gives them major potential as a significant contributor to the diverse portfolio of future energy technologies: "Grätzel cells are likely to have an important role in low-cost, large-scale solutions for renewable energy", the Committee said.

Grätzel is very excited about the award. "It was indeed a wonderful moment when I learned that I had been selected to receive the 2010 Millennium Technology Prize. I feel greatly honored to be the winner of this prestigious prize, and I am very grateful to the Technology Academy of Finland for this extraordinary distinction", he told ChemPhysChem.

Learning from the concepts used by green plants, Grätzel and co-workers have been able to develop a photovoltaic cell that shows a light-to-electricity conversion of 11.3% at midday. Nazeeruddin explains how these cells work: "The basic principle is like photosynthesis", he says. "Upon photoexcitation, the sensitizer –adsorbed onto titanium dioxide– injects an electron into the conduction band. This electron flows through the external load to the counter electrode. The oxidized sensitizer is regenerated by electron donation from iodide, while at the counter electrode, iodide is regenerated through the donation of an electron from the external circuit". Grätzel cells have recently been launched in consumer products, including battery-charging backpacks. By awarding the Millennium Technology prize to the inventor of these cells, the jury shows its confidence in the future of this exciting technology.

The Millennium Technology prize was first introduced in 2004. Previous winners include Tim Berners-Lee (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA), inventor of the World Wide Web, Shuji Nakamura (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA), inventor of new revolutionary light sources, and Robert Langer (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA) for his invention and development of innovative biomaterials for controlled drug release and tissue regeneration.

Read Grätzel's most recent ChemPhysChem articles on the importance of charge transport and recombination on the performance of dye-sensitized solar cells and the influence of iodide concentration on the efficiency and stability of dye-sensitized solar cells containing a non-volatile electrolyte.

Photo: Grätzel was one of the ten prominent speakers at the 10-year anniversary symposium of ChemPhysChem and ChemBioChem in Paris.

Kira Welter

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