Solar cell pioneer wins the EUR 1 million Millennium Technology Prize

HELSINKI, October 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The 2022 Millennium Technology Prize was awarded to Scientia Professor Martin Green the UNSW Sydney, Australia, for its innovation that transformed the production of solar energy.

The €1 million global technology award, presented every two years, recognizes Green’s leadership in the development of the Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC). Since its development in 1983, PERC has become the most commercially viable and efficient silicon solar cell technology for use in solar panels and for large-scale power generation, which accounts for almost 90% of the global solar cell market.

Green and his team developed the PERC by improving the quality of both the top and back surfaces of standard silicon solar cells. When sunlight – in the form of particles called photons – enters a cell, it excites the electrons in the silicon. In this excited state, electrons can move through the cell and generate electrical current.

The improved surface area of ​​the PERC allows the electrons to remain in this excited state longer – or to move freely – resulting in greater and more efficient energy production. The PERC has helped increase the relative conversion efficiency of standard solar cells by over 50%, from 16.5% in the early 1980s to 25% in the early 2000s.

Innovation has significantly reduced the cost of using solar panels, making solar power more affordable than fossil-based alternatives. PERCs can also power homes without requiring them to be connected to a power grid, ensuring reliable power supply for remote communities.

Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic Finland and Patron of the Prize, Green presented the Millennium Technology Prize at a ceremony in Helsinki today.

Professor Green said: “It is a great honor to have been selected for such a prestigious award. It not only recognizes my contribution to photovoltaics [the conversion of light into electrical power]but also the achievements of my students and research colleagues at UNSW, as well as those of the broader photovoltaic research and commercial community.

“I believe the award will increase my credibility as a spokesperson for what needs to be done to address climate change. We must transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy to sustain the path of human civilization on our shared planet. The pace of change is accelerating and the world will transition to solar and wind power in the next decade. I believe a tremendous transformation of historic importance is underway.”

Green and his team are currently working on combined cell technologies to achieve 40% solar cell efficiency by exploring options such as stacking cells on top of each other.

Green said: “Solar cells are increasingly being used to replace large power plants that use fossil fuels. In 2021, 20 countries or regions will be among them Australia, Chile, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Vietnam and California (USA) generated between 8% and 25% of their total electricity supply from solar energy, and this number is increasing rapidly.

“The rapid cost reductions in solar energy my work has enabled have come at just the right time, just as the importance of taking immediate action to combat climate change has become overwhelmingly evident.”

professor Minna PalmrothChairman of the Board of Technology Academy Finland said: “Professor Green’s innovation has and will continue to significantly improve the quality of life for billions of people worldwide, promoting environmentally sustainable development from national power grids to homes.”

Professor Päivi Törmä, Chair of the Millennium Technology Prize International Selection Committee, said: “PERCs can help us provide cost-effective energy solutions and mitigate climate change. Further research into solar cells is needed to replace their limited components, such as silver, with more plentiful alternatives.”

The 2022 ceremony celebrating Green’s innovation will be held alongside the Millennium Innovation Forumalso hosted by Technology Academy Finland, what’s going on 25-26 October. The forum brings together internationally renowned experts to discuss how technology can solve the world’s biggest challenges.

Speakers will include Bellingcat’s investigative journalist and executive director, Christo Grozevwho implicated the Russian government in the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and is currently investigating the war crimes he committed Russia in Ukraine. It also features Tim O’Reilly, Web 2.0 pioneer and Silicon Valley expert; and Marissa MayerEx-CEO of Yahoo, 20th employee at Google and first female engineer.

The Innovation Forum session on diversity in research and development is hosted by of Finland Research and Innovation Council, which is chaired Finnish Prime Minister.

There will be a press conference with Professor Martin Green at 9:00 a.m. EST (UTC+3) on October 25, 2022locked until October 25, 2022, 6:30 p.m. EST (UTC+3). Professor Green will also give a lecture 5:10 p.m. EST (UTC+3) on October 26, 2022.

For more information, press conference details or interview requests, please contact:

Saiansha Panangipalli
Email: [email protected] and [email protected];
Tel: +91 99715 74820

Q/A with Martin Green about PERC:

Watch and download a video and photos about Professor Martin GreenMillennium Technology Award winners 2022: here.

About the Millennium Technology Prize:

The Millennium Technology Prize, endowed with 1 million euros, is the outstanding award for technological innovations for a better life. This includes work that improves human well-being, biodiversity and overall sustainability. Supervised by the Technology Academy Finland, the prize was first awarded in 2004 and its patron is the President of the Republic of Finland Finland. The winners are selected by a respected international panel of experts from academia and industry. Innovations must be backed by rigorous academic and scientific research and meet multiple criteria, including promoting sustainable development and biodiversity, generating applications with commercial viability, and creating accessible socio-economic value.

Previous winning projects range from DNA sequencing, which helped develop COVID-19 vaccines, to ethical stem cell research and versatile, affordable smart technologies. For more information, visit

Previous winners of the Millennium Technology Prize are:

  1. 2004 – Mr Tim Berners-Lee for the World Wide Web;
  2. 2006 – professor Shuji Nakamura for the production of the first successful blue LED, the final step in creating a brilliant white LED;
  3. 2008 – Professor Robert Langer for his work on controlled drug delivery, the underlying technology behind mRNA vaccines.
  4. 2010 professor Michael Graezel for third-generation dye-sensitized solar cells that promise power-generating windows and low-cost solar panels;
  5. 2012 – Common winners: Professor Shinya Yamanakafor ethical stem cell research and Linus Torvalds for the open-source Linux operating system, which has become the basis of Android smartphones, tablets, digital TV recorders and supercomputers worldwide;
  6. 2014 professor Stuart Parkinfor the development of increased data storage density that has enabled a thousand-fold increase in the storage capacity of magnetic disk drives;
  7. 2016 DR Franz Arnold, for her work on directed evolution, which mimics natural evolution to create new and better proteins in the laboratory and is used to create green alternatives to fossil fuels;
  8. 2018 – DR Tuomo Suntolafor atomic layer deposition (ALD), which enables the fabrication of thin nanoscale layers of material for microprocessors and digital storage devices that helped revolutionize smartphones.
  9. 2020 – Joint Winners: Professor Shankar Balasubramanian and Professor David Klenermanfor Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology, which can accurately determine an organism’s full DNA sequence at low cost and in super-fast times, and has helped researchers identify the underlying factors in individuals that contribute to their immune response to COVID -19

About the Millennium Innovation Forum:

The Millennium Innovation Forum brings together people from business, academia and the public sector to discuss new solutions to global problems. This year’s forum is organized by Jason PalmerModerator of The intelligence Podcast published by The economist. Sessions will include Diversity in RDI, Green Transition, Digital Transformation and Resilience. Information on speakers, sessions etc view the forum and lecture by Professor Green online, Visit:

request Press accreditation For information on attending the Millennium Innovation Forum, see:

About Technology Academy Finland:

Technology Academy Finland (TAF) awards the EUR 1 million Millennium Technology Prize and runs related events and initiatives. It offers an international meeting place for corporate life, science and political decision-makers and promotes of Finland position in the world community.

The following files are available for download:

SOURCE Technology Academy Finland (TAF)


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