Michael Grätzel elected to the Royal Society

Michael Grätzel. Credit: Alain Herzog (EPFL)

Michael Grätzel. Credit: Alain Herzog (EPFL)

Professor Michael Grätzel at EPFL’s School of Basic Sciences has been elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society.

The Royal Society is “a self-governing Fellowship made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from the UK and the Commonwealth.” The oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, the Royal Society’s fundamental purpose is “to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.”

Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society are elected for life through a peer review process on the basis of excellence in science. The Society numbers are approximately 1,700 Fellows and Foreign Members, whose ranks include around 85 Nobel Laureates. Each year the Society’s Fellowship proposes around 800 candidates for membership, out of which up to 52 Fellows and up to ten Foreign Members are elected.

This year, the Royal Society has elected among its Foreign Members Professor Michael Grätzel at EPFL’s School of Basic Sciences. “I was delighted to receive these excellent news,” says Grätzel. “It is an immense honor for me to join the ranks of scientific giants of Schrödinger and Heisenberg’s caliber.”

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society said: “It is an honour to welcome so many outstanding researchers from around the world into the Fellowship of the Royal Society. Through their careers so far, these researchers have helped further our understanding of human disease, biodiversity loss and the origins of the universe. I am also pleased to see so many new Fellows working in areas likely to have a transformative impact on our society over this century, from new materials and energy technologies to synthetic biology and artificial intelligence. I look forward to seeing what great things they will achieve in the years ahead.”

About Professor Michael Grätzel

Professor Grätzel is world-renowned for inventing the first dye-sensitive solar cell in 1991 with chemist Brian O’Reagan. Just as plants use chlorophyll to turn sunlight into energy, the “Grätzel cells” use industrial dyes, pigments or quantum dots stimulated by sunlight to transmit an electrical charge. Within fifteen years of the original invention, Grätzel evolved the cells into an applied technology that is now being developed in universities and companies worldwide.

Having discovered molecular photovoltaics, Grätzel’s research has focused on designing mesoscopic photosystems based on molecular light harvesters that convert light very efficiently to electricity. He is credited with moving the photovoltaic field beyond the principle of light absorption via diodes to the molecular level. Recently his research engendered a second revolution in photovoltaics prompting the advent of perovskite solar cells. In just a single decade, their power-conversion efficiency increased from 3% to over 25%, rivaling and even exceeding the performance of conventional photovoltaics.

Grätzel also applied his innovative mesoscopic design concept to enhance the power of lithium-ion batteries and to create photoelectrochemical cells that efficiently generate chemical fuels from sunlight, opening up a new path to provide future sources of renewable energy that can be stored.

Grätzel currently directs EPFL’s Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces within the Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering (ISIC). His 1,650 publications have received over 400,000 citations and have an h-index of 282. In 2019, Stanford University ranked Grätzel first of 100,000 top scientists across all fields.

Read more about Professor Michael Grätzel