Perovskite solar pioneers honored with prestigious prize

The work undertaken separately by seven academics to discover the promise of perovskite materials for solar, and to open the door to high-efficiency devices, has been recognized by the judges of the Rank Prize for Optoelectronics.

October 7, 2021

Seven solar researchers from academic institutions in Japan, Korea, Europe and the U.S. have had their pioneering work on perovskite cells honored with the award of the 25th Rank Prize for Optoelectronics.

Nam-Gyu Park, whose group was the first to report a long-term stable perovskite solar cell, in 2012; and Sang Il Seok, whose group laid the groundwork for higher efficiency perovskite devices, are among the seven winners of the optoelectronic award founded by British industrialist Lord J Arthur Rank, who was head of the Rank film group.

Park, professor of chemical engineering at Sungkyunkwan University in Suwon, South Korea; and Seok, whose group presented the first inorganic-organic hybrid perovskite heterojunction solar cell to operate differently from perovskite-sensitized solar cells, were joined in the honor by Michael Graetzel, professor at Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL); Akihiro Kojima, of chemical manufacturer Zeon Corporation; Science Robotics editor Mike Lee; Tsutomu Miyasaka, founder of photoelectric conversion start-up Peccell Technologies and a fellow of the research
center of advanced science and technology at the University of Tokyo; and Henry Snaith FRS, co-founder and chief scientific officer of perovskite solar manufacturer Oxford PV.

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Graetzel, who directs the laboratory of photonics and interfaces at EPFL, pioneered research on energy and electron transfer reactions in mesoscopic systems and their use to generate electricity and fuels from sunlight. His dye-sensitized solar cells led to the advent of perovskite solar cells and the professor was recently ranked top of a Stanford University list of 100,000 leading global scientists.

Kojima studied the optical properties of organic-inorganic layered perovskite compounds in 2004, before receiving a master of engineering in photo-optical engineering from Tokyo Polytechnic University, and undertook research on applying organo-metal halide perovskite compounds to dye-sensitized solar cells as visible light sensitizers from 2005 to 2010, when he received a doctor of philosophy in multidisciplinary sciences from The University of Tokyo, before Joining Peccell Tech.

Lee conducted research at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Intra-European fellow and later completed his doctoral training at the University of Oxford. He was also a co-founding editor of Nature Electronics.

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‘Tom’ Miyasaka’s research specializes in photo-electrochemistry and hybrid photovoltaic cells, especially halide perovskite devices, and his achievements include the Chemical Society of Japan Award, the PVSEC Hamakawa Award and the Clarivate Analytics Citation Honor Award, all in 2017; the Japan Society of Applied Physics Achievement Award, in 2019; and last year’s Ichimura Academic Award.

Park’s group is now undertaking research on materials and device engineering for high efficiency perovskite solar cells and are developing high-efficiency technology along with long-term stable, large-area processing technologies for commercialization, and Seok and his colleagues hold the world record for the most efficient perovskite solar cell, at 25.5%, as certified by the U.S’ National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Snaith discovered perovskites could produce extremely efficient solar cells when integrated into a simple thin-film device which would be easy and cheap to manufacture and his Oxford PV business is working to commercialize perovskite cell production.

The two, biennial Rank Prizes recognize achievements in optoelectronics and nutrition, reflecting the business interests of the philanthropist after whom they are named, who also headed the Hovis food group.

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