Graetzel wins UofL's first renewable energy prize

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Nov. 20, 2013 /CNW/ - Swiss chemist Michael Graetzel, noted for his discovery of a new solar cell that is easier and less costly to produce than silicon-based cells, has won the first $50,000 Leigh Ann Conn Prize for Renewable Energy from the University of Louisville.

Graetzel, professor and director of the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, is recognized for merging nanoscience with photoconversion by developing a dye-sensitized solar cell known as the Graetzel cell.

His cells convert sunlight into electricity using earth-abundant materials at efficiencies approaching thin-film silicon-based cells but with dramatically lower production costs. Mass production of the cells began in 2009.

Graetzel, one of the mostly highly cited chemists worldwide, holds more than 50 patents and has written two books and more than 1,200 publications. His concepts have spawned hundreds of research groups and many conferences.

Next spring, he will visit Louisville to give a public talk about his winning work and to receive the Conn Prize medal and award, which recognizes outstanding renewable energy ideas and achievements with proven global impact.

"Dr. Graetzel is the international leader in making solar energy more efficient, practical and affordable. We value his research and we're proud he is the first winner of the Leigh Ann Conn Prize," said UofL President James Ramsey, who will confer the award.

The prize, managed by UofL's Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research, is named for the late daughter of center supporters and prize benefactors Hank and Rebecca Conn.

"Recognizing renewable energy innovations of such high caliber is a wonderful way to memorialize Leigh Ann," Hank Conn said. "We're excited because the science is proven and it's being translated into the world. The choice of Michael Graetzel mirrors the work conducted at the Conn Center and reinforces everything we've strived for these past five years. She would be proud."

Nominations for the 2014 prize will be accepted from Jan. 1 through June 1. A downloadable photo of Graetzel is available here.

CONTACT: Andrew Marsh at 502-852-8597 or

SOURCE: University of Louisville

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