Zeno Karl Schindler Award 2016 – Wolfgang Tress
Thesis Title: Developing and Understanding Third Generation Solar Cells
“For the important discoveries he made at the EPFL in the field of electroluminescent perovskite solar cells.”
Energy from the sun will become the major source of electricity in this century. To accelerate the transition to solar power, it is crucial to make photovoltaics more sustainable. This requires investigation of novel technologies and materials that allow for solar cells with reduced energy payback time and low material input. Dr. Tress has been working on so-called organic solar cells, which can be fabricated as flexible colorful foils for new applications. He shed light on how charge carriers are separated in donor-acceptor systems and extracted at the contacts. At EPFL Dr. Tress focusses on a novel very promising material for solar cells that is inexpensive and can be solution processed: inorganic organic metal-halide perovskite. He and his colleagues investigated the efficiency-limiting factors and identified ways to overcome them. One of his main goals is to improve the photovoltage generated by the solar cell towards its thermodynamic limit. Dr. Tress also pioneered the work on hysteresis in perovskite solar cells, which is a puzzling phenomenon related to the mixed electronic ionic conductivity of the material. His broad research will pave the way for other optoelectronic applications of perovskites as well such as photodetectors and light emitting diodes.