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Swiss Chemist Wins Inaugural Conn Prize for Solar Cell Discovery


The University of Louisville has announced the winner of the first Leigh Ann Conn Prize for Renewable Energy. The award goes to Swiss chemist Michael Graetzel for his work developing a new kind of solar cell that’s easier and less expensive to produce than traditional silicon-based cells.The Leigh Ann Conn Prize was announced last year.   It honors game-changing work in renewable energy and energy efficiency.Conn Center Assistant Director Andrew Marsh says the prize was designated for work that’s already out of the conceptual phase, and been made a reality.“This is a prize to recognize those people who have come up with amazing ideas and then those ideas have progressed through a series of experimentation and development to the point where they’ve been commercially deployed with an appreciable difference to the way that energy is harvested and utilized,” he said.Marsh says Graetzel’s work fits into that category. He has developed dye-sensitized solar cells that are more efficient, but less expensive to produce than silicon-based cells. He’ll receive $50,000 in prize money, and will give a public talk in Louisville next spring about his work. Nominations for next year's prize will be accepted from January 1 to June 1, 2014.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.