Perovskite solar cell researchers win 2022 Rank Prize

September 29, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
Perovskite solar cell researchers win 2022 Rank Prize
Seven pioneers of perovskite semiconductor solar cell technology have won the 2022 Rank prize for optoelectronics research

The 50th anniversary of Rank Prize sees seven researchers on perovskite solar cells celebrated for their contributions.

The winners include Prof Henry Snaith, founder of Oxford PV, as well as Professor Michael Graetzel at EPFL in Switzerland. The prize was founded in  1972 to celebrate outstanding scientific breakthroughs in optoelectronics by Lord J. Arthur Rank, a British industrialist.

The winners are:

  • Professor Michael Graetzel
  • Dr Akihiro Kojima
  • Dr Michael Lee
  • Professor Tsutomu (Tom) Miyasaka
  • Professor Nam-Gyu Park
  • Professor Sang Il Seok
  • Professor Henry Snaith FRS

Perovskite semiconductors (and more particularly organic-inorganic lead halide perovskite semiconductors) work as the active layer in solid-state photovoltaic solar cells and, latterly, to be deployed in tandem cells with silicon. These are layered materials, originally based on compounds of the form ABX3, where A is an organic molecular ion, B a metal and X one of several halides – chlorine, bromine or iodine.

The prize winners have developed these materials through several challenging iterations, leading to a rapid increase in efficiency from initial values of under 4 percent. Now solid-state perovskite semiconductor solar cells operate at 25.5% efficiency, comparable to the 26.1 percent efficiency of silicon counterparts.

“The Rank Prize Optoelectronics Committee is delighted to recognise the outstanding achievements of these internationally leading researchers. Their work is an excellent example of fundamental contributions to physical science being rapidly and successfully translated into new technology,  that is poised to address truly urgent societal challenges linked to climate change. It is particularly gratifying that we have been able to announce this recognition in the lead up to the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference,” said Professor Donal Bradley CBE FRS, Chair of Rank Prize’s Optoelectronics Committee.

"It is a great honour to be awarded this prize, alongside my colleagues in the field who have contributed significantly to the discovery and advancement of perovskite solar cells. The last ten years has been an unexpected and unbelievable journey of discovery, and the next decade promises to be equally exciting, as we enable the industrialisation of perovskite photovoltaics and accelerate the global transition to carbon-free energy production," said Professor Henry Snaith FRS. He is co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Oxford PV, which has opened the first full-scale production line based on his perovskite technology. Last month Oxford PV showed a record conversion efficiency of 29.52 percent for its tandem cell.

“I was overjoyed when I learned I was one of the recipients of the 2022 Rank Prize for Optoelectronics and wish to express my sincere congratulations to my fellow laureates. I take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to my co-workers and colleagues for their precious help in accomplishing this remarkable breakthrough and to Rank Prize for awarding this prestigious prize to me and the other awardees,” said Professor Michael Graetzel, Professor at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) where he directs the laboratory of photonics and interfaces.

“Over a decade has passed since I started to work on hybrid perovskite materials for optoelectronics, I continue to be impressed at the pace of progress and sustained innovation in this field. It is wonderful news for established and early career researchers working with hybrid perovskite optoelectronics that the Rank Prize is acknowledging their exciting research area,” said Dr Michael Lee who was a researcher at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Intra-European fellow.

“I am greatly honoured to receive the 2022 Rank Prize for Optoelectronics. I am pleased to have been involved in the early research of applying organometal halide perovskites to solar cells. It is a pleasure to share this honour with my supervisors,” said Dr Akihiro Kojima, a researcher at Peccell Technologies. In 2018, he moved to Zeon Corporation.

Professor Tsutomu (Tom) Miyasaka, founder and CEO of Peccell said: “Study of halide perovskite photovoltaics has made remarkable contributions to a wide range of academic disciplines in the intersection of chemistry and physics. It is an honour for the members who pioneered this interdisciplinary study to be selected to receive this Rank Prize award with me. I'm particularly happy that Kojima, who worked on the first experiment with me, was selected. I hope that young researchers will pioneer this field and lead to new discoveries.”

Researchers in South Korea have also been leading the development of the technology, including Nam-Gyu Park, Professor of Chemical Engineering at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) in Suwon, South Korea. “It is my great honour to be an awardee of the Rank Prize. My enthusiastic journey to discover more efficient, affordable and viable photovoltaic materials and technologies brought me to the organic-inorganic halide perovskite. The discovery of perovskite solar cells was not accidental but inevitable. Since the discovery and the progress of perovskite solar cells would not be possible without my colleagues, I am pleased to share this honour with them,” he said.

“It’s a great pleasure to be awarded the prestigious Rank Prize and I sincerely thank Rank Prize’s Optoelectronics Committee for recognising perovskite solar cells as a promising solar power harnessing technology, by giving this year’s Rank Prize award to myself and fellow researchers in the field,” added Professor Sang Il Seok, Distinguished Professor at the Department of Energy and Chemical Engineering in Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in Korea.

www.rankprize.org

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