Award for moth-eye solar cells

Empa researchers among top 100 thinkers

Nov 18, 2014 | RAINER KLOSE
The US journal Foreign Policy has named Empa researchers Artur Braun, Florent Boudoire, Rita Toth and Jakob Heier, and Edwin Constable from the University of Basel in the innovation category on the list of 100 Leading Global Thinkers 2014 in recognition of their research project on moth-eye solar cells for the direct conversion of sunlight into hydrogen. The awards ceremony took place in Washington D.C. on November 17, 2014, in the presence of US Secretary of State, John Kerry.

Caption: The award-winning research team: Jakob Heier, Rita Toth, Artur Braun und Florent Boudoire f.l.t.r.


Every year, Foreign Policy compiles a list of the top 100 minds in the world – people who have had a major impact on our world and society in the year in question in both a positive and negative respect. Besides the Empa researchers, this year’s list of 100 Leading Global Thinkers also includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and an Indian research team that sent a space probe to Mars – but also the leader of the IS terrorist militia. The 100 people are divided into ten categories depending on their contribution to global history: “Decision Makers”, “Naturals”, “Challengers”, “Advocates”, “Artists”, “Innovators”, “Healers”, “Chroniclers”, “Moguls” and “Agitators”. The Empa researchers featured in the “Innovators” category. The awards ceremony was held in Washington D.C. on November 17, 2014. With a select audience of about 400 invited guests US Secretary of State John Kerry shared his views on the current state of the world. The complete list of the 100 Leading Global Thinkers 2014 can be viewed here.


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  How the "moth eye solar cell" is created, and how it collects light. Illustration: Empa


Award-winning innovation: Moth-eye solar cells convert sunlight into hydrogen
In June 2014 the research team headed by Artur Braun succeeded in producing a solar cell that imitates photosynthesis in plants and uses sunlight and water to create synthetic fuels such as hydrogen. This photo-electrochemical cell basically works like a moth’s eye. The special microstructure of the photoelectrodes literally captures the light and doesn’t let it back out again, which enabled the researchers to increase the light yield of the solar cells radically. Read more here.

The images can be downloaded here.