On Oct. 31st 2014, we received Michael Graetzel for an evening conference, co-organized by swissnex China and Shanghai Institute of Ceramics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (SICCAS). The eminent EPFL Swiss professor exposed to a numerous attentive crowd mostly composed of local students and researchers the whereabouts of his invention: the Dye Sensitized Solar (DSC) Cell. This technology, also called Graetzel cell, has triggered a worldwide interest in the past 30 years, with almost every top university of the world contributing to the advances of this revolutionary invention that mimics natural photosynthesis to generate electricity in a cost effective fashion. Prof. Graetzel and his eponymous cell are now celebrities in the science world and several companies and institutions (including SICCAS) already manufacture this product around the globe. But there is more... The understanding of the physic-chemical mechanisms and the advance materials making know-how acquired in the process have allowed the scientific community to come up with a new solar cell, almost twice as efficient and even cheaper than Graetzel's first child (to use his own words): the Perovskite solar cell. This new born cousin of the DSC still has a long road before complying to market requirements, but there is no doubt it will soon power our grid and decorate our consumer electronics!
- Contributed by Jérémie Brillet, PhD, Group leader at SICCAS