June 9, 2010 — One of mankind’s greatest challenges is to find ways to replace the diminishing fossil fuel supply. The most obvious energy source is the sun, origin of most energy found on Earth.
The Winner of the 2010 Millennium Technology Prize, Professor Michael Gratzel, Director of the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), has responded to the challenge with his dye-sensitized solar cells.
“The constraint of solar energy has traditionally been its price. ‘Gratzel cells’ provide a more affordable way of harnessing solar energy. Gratzel’s innovation is likely to have an important role in low-cost, large-scale solutions for renewable energy,” says the President and CEO of Technology Academy Finland, Dr Ainomaija Haarla, explaining why Gratzel was selected as the winner.
The decision was made by the Board of Directors of Technology Academy Finland, based on the recommendation of the International Selection Committee.
The price/performance ratio of Gratzel’s dye-sensitized solar cells is excellent. The technology often described as “artificial photosynthesis” is a promising alternative to standard silicon photovoltaics. It is made of low-cost materials and does not need an elaborate apparatus to manufacture. Though Gratzel cells are still in relatively early stages of development, they show great promise as an inexpensive alternative to costly silicon solar cells and as an attractive candidate as a new renewable energy source.
Gratzel cells, which promise electricity-generating windows and low-cost solar panels, have just made their debut in consumer products.
The two other 2010 Millennium Laureates were awarded each awarded prizes of EUR 150,000 and “Peak” trophies at the Award Ceremony. This year’s Millennium Laureates answer some of the challenges of sustainable development and energy consumption.
The initial innovation of Professor Sir Richard Friend, organic Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), was a crucial milestone in plastic electronics. Electronic paper, cheap organic solar cells and illuminating wall paper are examples of the revolutionary future products his work has made possible. Friend is the Cavendish Professor of Physics at the University of Cambridge.
Stephen Furber, Professor of Computer Engineering at the University of Manchester, is the principal designer of the ARM 32-bit RISC microprocessor, an innovation that revolutionised mobile electronics. The ingeniously designed processor enabled the development of cheap, powerful handheld, battery-operated devices. In the past 25 years nearly 20 billion ARM based chips have been manufactured.
“Each and every one of these innovations excellently fulfils the most important of our requirements: they benefit mankind as broadly as possible, both today and in the future,” says Dr Stig Gustavson, Chairman of the Board of Technology Academy Finland.
The Millennium Technology Prize is Finland’s tribute to developers of life-enhancing technological innovations, awarded biannually. In 2010 the total amount of the prizes is € 1,1 million of which €1m comes from the Finnish state and €100 o00 from Technology Academy Finland. The main prize is € 800,000, and the other Laureates will be awarded € 150,000 each. www.millenniumprize.fi
The prize is awarded by Technology Academy Finland, an independent fund established by Finnish organisations, industry and the Finnish state in a partnership which aims to promote applied technology and research which leads to new technologies that have a positive impact on the quality of life and are based on humane values. The organisation of Technology Academy Finland includes the Finnish Academy of Technical Sciences (TTA), Svenska tekniska vetenskapsakademien i Finland (STV), and the Industry Council, of which many Finnish industrial enterprises are members. www.technologyacademy.fi
Source: Technology Academy Finland
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