Michael Grätzel

Michael Grätzel (born 11 May 1944, in Dorfchemnitz, Saxony, Germany)[4] is a professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne where he directs the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces. He pioneered research on energy and electron transfer reactions in mesoscopic-materials and their optoelectronic applications. He co-invented with Brian O'Regan the Grätzel cell in 1988.[2][5][6][7]

Michael Grätzel
Born (1944-05-11) 11 May 1944
Alma materFreie Universität Berlin
Known forDye-sensitized solar cells
AwardsHarvey Prize (2007)
Balzan Prize (2009)
Millennium Technology Prize (2010)
Albert Einstein World Award of Science (2012)
Marcel Benoist Prize (2013)
King Faisal International Prize (2015)
Global Energy Prize (2017)
Scientific career
InstitutionsÉcole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne[1]
Notable studentsHenry Snaith (postdoc)[2][3]

Author of over 1000 publications,[1] two books and inventor or co-inventor of over 80 patents,[8] he has been the Mary Upton Visiting Professor at Cornell University and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the National University of Singapore, and is currently a Distinguished Scientist at King Abdulaziz University.[9] He was an Invited Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, the École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay and Delft University of Technology.


In 1968 he graduated from Free University of Berlin, in 1971 he earned the Doctor of Philosophy in natural science in Technical University of Berlin. In 1976 he earned Doctor of Science in physical chemistry. Since 1977 to the present day he is a Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne where he directs the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces. He acted as postdoctoral research fellow, lecturer, visiting professor in Berlin Institute for Nuclear Researches named after Hahn and Meitner, Free University of Berlin, University of California at Berkeley, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan (Paris), Oil and Gas Research Fund, University Notre Dame (USA) and other educational and research centers. In 1991 he published his breakthrough work in Nature magazine with regard to the new type of solar cells based on a three-dimensional array of tiny (mesoscopic) oxide semiconductor particles with wide band gap covered with an organic pigment that have brought the name of Professor into repute and were named as Graetzel cells. Dr. Michael Graetzel is the holder of 10 honorary doctorates in Universities of Asia and Europe: Denmark, Holland, China, Sweden, Singapore and other countries. He is the laureate of tens of prestigious scientific and engineering prizes, such as Grand Prix “Millennium Technology”, Medal of Faraday granted by British Royal Society, Gutenberg Prize, Albert Einstein Prize and others. Dr. Michael Graetzel is the member of Swiss Chemical Society, Society of Max Plank, and German Academy of Science (Leopoldina), as well as an honorable member of the Israeli Chemical Society and the Bulgarian Academy of Science, an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and a Fellow of the US-National Academy of Inventors.

Scientific achievements

Michael Graetzel is one of developers of the so-called Graetzel cell operating on the principles of photosynthesis– the process similar to biochemical one and used by plants for light energy conversion into carbohydrates. The invention developed by the scientist since 1970th of past century represents profitable alternative for expensive and sophisticated technologies of photovoltaic arrays produced on the basis of silicon (in particular, the latter require expensive silicon of high purity). Compared to silicon-based batteries the Graetzel cells are rather simple and manufactured of low cost materials. First Graetzel cells discovered in 1991 were based upon porous layer of nanoparticles of titanium oxide covered with organic dye. Electrons from organic dye, able to efficiently adsorb solar radiation, migrate into conductive electrode made of titan dioxide and generate the electric flux. Commercial manufacturing of such cells was started just in 2009. At the initial stage, they possessed poor efficiency performances of 3-8% and poor stability due to available unstable liquid electrolyte and organic dye inside the cells. By 2012, the efficiency of cells has been increased by 11.9%. For the period over 20 years, the researchers headed by Graetzel have been working on the increase of efficiency of Graetzel solar cells and simplification of the technology of their production. In 2009, Japanese scientists managed to make a breakthrough and transfer from an organic pigment in the cells to hybrid organic-inorganic perovskite materials, and in 2012, they managed to replace liquid electrolyte by solid organic semiconductor. At that, a new class of devices, the so-called "perovskite solar cells" has emerged. At present, these devices are considered the most intensively studied materials in the world, and their efficiency currently exceeds 22%. Michael Graetzel's laboratories has set several world records with respect to the efficiency of perovskite solar batteries. Michael Graetzel is an ultimate leader in the field of materials for solar power industry and continues his works on development of photovoltaics all over the world; in particular, he actively cooperates with the researchers from Lomonosov Moscow State University in the area of perovskite photovoltaics.


His work has been cited over 250,000 times, his h-index is 224,[1] making him one of the 10 most highly cited chemists in the world.[10] He was a frequent guest scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, was a fellow of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science. In 2009 he was named Distinguished Honorary Professor by the Chinese Academy of Science (Changchun) and the Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

He has received numerous awards including the Millennium 2000 European innovation prize, the 2001 Faraday Medal of the British Royal Society, the 2001 Dutch Havinga Award, the 2004 Italgas Prize, two McKinsey Venture awards in 1998 and 2002 and the 2005 Gerischer Prize. In 2007 he was awarded the Harvey Prize of Technion for pioneered research on energy and electron transfer reactions in mesoscopic-materials and their optoelectronic applications. In 2009 he was awarded the Balzan Prize for the Science of New Materials. His most recent awards include: 2013 Marcel Benoist Prize; 2012 Albert Einstein World Award of Science;[11] 2011 Gutenberg Research Award; 2011 Paul Karrer Gold Medal; 2011 Wilhelm Exner Medal.[12] On 9 June 2010, Grätzel received Millennium Technology Prize, for development of dye-sensitized solar cells. The cash prize, worth 800,000 euros, was awarded, in Helsinki, Finland, by the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen.[13] In 2015 he received the King Faisal International Prize in Chemistry and in 2017 the Global Energy Prize. He holds a doctorate from the Technical University of Berlin and honorary doctorates from Faculty of Science and Technology at Uppsala University, Sweden [14] (1996), Turin and Nova Gorica. He was elected honorary member of the Société Vaudoise des Sciences Naturelles. Dr. Grätzel is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee at the IMDEA Nanoscience Institute. In 2017, he was awarded the Global Energy Prize, "for transcendent merits in development of low cost and efficient solar cells, known as “Graetzel cells”, aimed to creation of cost-efficient, large-scale engineering solutions for power generation."

Interesting facts

Graetzel cell-based batteries are more convenient for consumer compared to silicon-based photocells – they could be made flexible and in various colors. It is convenient for use and power generation, for instance, in various structural elements of buildings. It is possible to create structurally transparent cells able to generate electric power within various bands of light frequencies, up to infrared one. It means that, in particular, they could be embedded into window glasses resulting in double effect for premises cooling and associated electric power generation. Several companies have already launched mass production of photocells based upon renewed Graetzel cells. Dr. Graetzel is the author of more than 1300 publications, two monographs; he holds more than 50 patents. He is one of the three globally most cited chemistry academicians.

See also

Notes and references

  1. Michael Grätzel publications indexed by Google Scholar
  2. Snaith, H. J.; Moule, A. J.; Klein, C. D.; Meerholz, K.; Friend, R. H.; Grätzel, M. (2007). "Efficiency Enhancements in Solid-State Hybrid Solar Cells via Reduced Charge Recombination and Increased Light Capture". Nano Letters. 7 (11): 3372. doi:10.1021/nl071656u.
  3. Anon (2013). "365 days: Nature's 10, Ten people who mattered this year". Nature. 504 (7480): 357. doi:10.1038/504357a.
  4. Pete Pokkinen: Huippututkija harkitsi nuorena pianistin uraa. Helsingin Sanomat, 10.6.2010, p. B7. (in Finnish)
  6. Dye-Sensitized Titanium Dioxide Archived 2010-11-25 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Graetzel, M. (1981). "Artificial photosynthesis: Water cleavage into hydrogen and oxygen by visible light". Accounts of Chemical Research. 14 (12): 376. doi:10.1021/ar00072a003.
  8. https://worldwide.espacenet.com/searchResults?submitted=true&locale=en_EP&DB=EPODOC&ST=advanced&IN=GR%C3%84TZEL+MICHAEL
  9. http://dsc.kau.edu.sa/Pages-Distinguished-Scientists.aspx
  10. "Prof. Michael Graetzel". EPFL. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  11. "Albert Einstein World Award of Science 2012". Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  12. Editor, ÖGV. (2015). Wilhelm Exner Medal. Austrian Trade Association. ÖGV. Austria.
  13. "PROFESSOR GRÄTZEL WINS THE 2010 MILLENNIUM TECHNOLOGY GRAND PRIZE FOR DYE-SENSITIZED SOLAR CELLS". Millennium Technology Prize. 9 June 2010. Archived from the original on 13 June 2010. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  14. http://www.uu.se/en/about-uu/traditions/prizes/honorary-doctorates/
Preceded by
Robert S. Langer
Millennium Technology Prize winner
2010 (for dye-sensitized solar cells)
Succeeded by
Linus Torvalds
Shinya Yamanaka
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