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  • Grätzel Wins Millennium Grand Prize
Jun 2010
HELSINKI, June 14, 2010 — The winner of the 2010 Millennium Technology Prize is professor Michael Grätzel of Switzerland for his third-generation, low-cost, dye-sensitized solar cells. The president of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen, handed the EUR 800,000 ($980,000) grand prize and the prize trophy ‘Peak’ to Grätzel at the Grand Award Ceremony at the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki.

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, the origin of most energy found on Earth.

Grätzel, 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. 'Grätzel cells' provide a more affordable way of harnessing solar energy. Grätzel's innovation is likely to have an important role in low-cost, large-scale solutions for renewable energy," said Dr. Ainomaija Haarla, president and CEO of the Technology Academy Finland.

The decision was made by the board of directors of Technology Academy Finland, based on the recommendation of the International selection committee. i
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 Grätzel 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.

Grätzel cells, which promise electricity-generating windows and low-cost solar panels, have just made their debut in consumer products.

2010 Millennium Laureates: Furber and Friend

The two other 2010 Millennium laureates were awarded each awarded prizes of EUR 150,000 ($184,000) 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 Sir Richard Friend, organic 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 revolutionized mobile electronics. The 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.

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