2 NREL Scientists Awarded Prestigious International Prize
March 08, 2007
Sarah Kurtz and Jerry Olson, two solar-power innovators at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, will share this year's $1 million Dan David Future Prize with NASA climate scientist James Hansen. The prizes are granted to individuals or institutions that have made an outstanding contribution to humanity. The prizes will be awarded in a March 8 ceremony in Paris.
The NREL scientists pioneered the highly efficient multi-junction solar cell, which uses layers of semiconductor material to gain extremely high efficiencies in converting sunlight to electricity. Already in wide use in space exploration, including powering the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, the scientists hope the multi-junction devices will help meet electrical needs on Earth through the use of lenses and mirrors that concentrate sunlight on the highly efficient solar cells. A cell based on Olson's and Kurtz's design and manufactured by Spectrolab recently set a world-record conversion efficiency of 40 percent.
International businessman and philanthropist Dan David established the three annual prizes of one million U.S. dollars each to recognize and encourage innovative and interdisciplinary research. The prize, now in its sixth year, aims to foster universal values of excellence, creativity, justice, democracy and progress and to promote the scientific, technological and humanistic achievements that advance and improve our world.
NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by Midwest Research Institute and Battelle.