Michael Graetzel (Switzerland) 2017

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.

Head, Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces, EPFL.


  • Born on May 11, 1944 in Dorfchemnitz commune (Germany).
  • 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.
  • In1976 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 National Supérieur de Cachan (Paris), Oil and Gas Research Fund, University Notre Dame (USA) and other educational and research centers.
  • In1991 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 the honorable member of Israeli Chemical Society, Bulgarian Academy of Science and British Royal Chemical Society and a Fellow of the US-National Academy of Inventors.


  • 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.


  • 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.


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December 2019