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Old Posted Jul 17, 2010, 4:54 PM
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Millennium Technology Prize winner creates 'solar windows'


By Timon Singh

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Professor Michael Gratzel of the Lausanne Federal Technology Institute has won the Millennium Technology Prize of €800,000 (GBP£660,000) for his innovative low-cost solar cell that could be utilised to build electricity generating windows. Using nature as an inspiration, Gratzel's solar cell mimics natural plant photosynthesis in how plant-life turns light into energy. These dye-sensitized solar cells as they' re known could "provide a more affordable way of harnessing solar energy" and lead to the development of electricity-generating windows and mobile solar panels.

- Explaining the technology behind the Gratzel cells, which also rely on nanotechnology to produce power from sunlight, Gratzel said, "We are using nanocrystal films in which the particles are so small, they don't scatter light. You can imagine using those cells as electricity producing windows." "What's very exciting is that you collect light from all sides, so can capture electricity from the inside as well as the outside. You could think that the glass of all high-rises in New York would be electricity generating panels." It is indeed an intriguing idea that the technology, when used in sunnier environments such as the UAE, could transform the power systems of cities such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh.

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