Prof. Michael Graetzel

  • Habilitation (Dr.habil.) Physical Chemistry, 1976, Free University of Berlin.
  • Dr.rer.nat. in Physical Chemistry, 1971 (summa cum laude), TU Berlin.
  • Diploma degree in Chemistry, 1968 (summa cum laude), Free University of Berlin
  • Mesoscopic photosystems for the generation of electricity and fuels ls from sunlight
  • Dye sensitized and perovskite solar cells.
  • Mesoscopic cathode materials for lithium ion batteries
  • Full Professor, Director of the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces at EPFL, 1981 – present
  • Head of the Chemistry Department, EPFL 1991-1993, and 1983-1985. 1977 -1981.
  • Associated Professor of Physical Chemistry, EPFL 1977 – 1981 :
  • External Scientific Member, Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research Stuttgart, Germany 2018- present.
  • Guest Professor, NTU Singapore, 2011 -2018
  • Distinguished Invited Professor, National University of Singapore, 2005-2009 Invited Professor, Ecole Polytechnique Supérieure de Paris-Cachan 1998.
  • Invited Professor, University of California at Berkeley. 1974-1976.
  • Senior Staff Scientist, Hahn-Meitner Institute Berlin, Germany, 1971-1972.
  • Lecturer of Photochemistry and Physical Chemistry, Free University of Berlin.1975 -1976.
  • Petroleum Research Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow University of Notre Dame, USA. 1972-1974 Research Associate, Hahn Meitner Institute Berlin, 1969 – 1972
  • 2021 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Basic Science, Spain       
  • 2020 Materials Today Innovation Award, USA
  • 2020 Diels – Planck Medal and Lecture, Kiel, Germany
  • 2019 Elected Member of the Swiss Academy for Technical Sciences
  • 2018 August Wilhelm von Hofmann Memorial Medal, German Chemical Society
  • 2017 Global Energy Prize, St. Petersburg, Russian Confederation
  • 2017 Zewail Prize and Medal in Molecular Science
  • 2017 RUSNANO Prize, Moscow, Russian Confederation
  • 2016 Elected Member of the Royal Spanish Academy of Engineering
  • 2016 Paracelsus Prize and Medal of the Swiss Chemical Society
  • 2015 King Faisal International Science Prize, Saudi Arabia
  • 2014 Samson Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation in Alternative Fuels, Israel
  • 2014 Elected member of the German Academy of Science (Leopoldina)
  • 2014 First Leigh-Ann Conn Prize, Renewable Energy, University of Kentucky USA
  • 2014 Elected Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK).
  • 2013 Leonardo da Vinci Medal of the European Academy of Science.
  • 2013 Marcel Benoist Prize (Switzerland)
  • 2012 Albert Einstein World Award of Science, World Cultural Council.
  • 2011 Wilhelm Exner Medal, Vienna Austria.
  • 2011 Federation of the European Material Societies (FEMS) Innovation Award.
  • 2011 Gutenberg Research Award University of Mainz, Germany
  • 2011 Paul Karrer Gold Medal, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2010 Millenium Technology Grand Prize, Technology Academy Finland.
  • 2010 City of Florence Award of the Italian Chemical Society
  • 2010 Galileo Galilei Award, Padova Italy,
  • 2009 Balzan Prize, Balzan Foundation, Milano, Zurich

Michael Graetzel discovered molecular photovoltaics, being the first to conceive and realize mesoscopic photosystems based on molecular light harvesters that convert light very efficiently to electricity. By now the new generation of solar cells that emerged from his research can rival and even exceed the performance of conventional photovoltaics. He is credited with moving the photovoltaic field beyond the principle of light absorption via diodes to the molecular level. His revolutionary cell design presented a new paradigm since it features a three-dimensional mesoscopic junction, in contrast to the planar p-n architecture used in conventional solar cells. The prototype of this new photovoltaic family is the dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC), also referred to as “Graetzel cell”, which employs dye molecules, pigments or quantum dots as light harvesters. These are surface-bound on a support formed by an array of colloidal nanocrystals of a wide band gap semiconductor, such as TiO2 or SnO2 as key electron capturing substrate. The mesoporous film is infiltrated with a redox electrolyte or a solid-state hole conductor to effect charge transport to the back contact of the cell. 

They are the first and only photovoltaic system that achieves the separation of light absorption from charge carrier transport mimicking the light reaction of natural photosynthesis in solar energy harvesting. DSCs are simple and inexpensive to manufacture and possess unique practical advantages including their flexibility, aesthetic appeal, transparency and bifacial photon collection. They reach currently a power conversion efficiency of close to 15 % in full sunlight and obver 35% in ambient light. These features along with excellent long-term stability have fostered commercial applications on the industrial scale. By now, large-scale DSC production and commercial sales have been launched for applications as semitransparent glass panels for solar electricity production or in flexible photovoltaics providing electric power from ambient light as battery replacements for electronic devices. Graetzel played a pivotal role in the recent development of perovskite solar cells (PSCs) that directly emerged from the DSC. Their meteoric rise to reach a solar to electric power conversion efficiency of 25.65% in 2020 has stunned the PV-community and attracted enormous research interest with close to 20’000 papers being published on the subject over the last 8 years.

Graetzel also applied his mesoscopic design concept to enhance the power of lithium ion batteries and to create photoelectrochemical cells that realize efficient generation of chemical fuels from sunlight, opening up a new path to provide future sources of renewable energy that can be stored. His group achieved very high quantum efficiencies for the solar light driven decomposition of water into hydrogen and oxygen and the reduction of carbon dioxide by to carbon monoxide or ethylene and ethanol. Graetzel’s 1650 publications have received some 325’000 citations and his h-index is 259 (Web of Science, May 2021).  A recent ranking issued by Stanford University places Graetzel in the first position on a list of 100,000 top scientists across all fields.

1)  J. Desilvestro, M. Grätzel, L. Kavan, J. Moser and J. Augustynski  Highly Efficient Sensitization of Titanium Dioxide J.Am.Chem.Soc., 107, 2988 (1985).

2)  B.O’Regan and M. Grätzel , A Low Cost, High Efficiency Solar Cell based on the Sensitization of  Colloidal Titanium Dioxide, Nature,1991, 353, 7377-7381.

3)  U.Bach, D.Lupo, P.Comte, J.E.Moser, F.Weissörtel, J.Salbeck, H.Spreitzer and M.Grätzel,  Solid-state dye-sensitized mesoporous TiO2 solar cells with high photon-to-electron conversion efficiencies, Nature 1998, 395, 550. 

4)  A. Hagfeldt and M. Grätzel, M., Molecular Photovoltaics,  Acc. Chem. Res. 2000, 33 , 269.

5)  M. Grätzel, Photoelectrochemical Cells, Nature  2001, 414, 332.

6)  M.Grätzel, Recent Advances in Sensitized Mesoscopic Solar Cells, Acc. Chem. Res. 2009, 42, 1781.

7)  A.Yella, H.-W. Lee, H. N. Tsao,1 C. Yi, A.Kumar Chandiran,Md.K. Nazeeruddin,1 E. W.-G.Diau, C.-Y. Yeh, S. M. Zakeeruddin and M. Grätzel, Porphyrin- based Solar Cells Exceed 12 % Efficiency,  Science 2011, 334, 629-634.

8)  J.H Delcamp, A. Yella, T.W. Holcombe, and M.Grätzel, The Molecular Engineering of Organic Sensitizers for Solar-Cell Applications, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2012, 52, 376-380.

9)  H.Snaith and M.Grätzel, Light-Enhanced Charge Mobility in a Molecular  Hole  Transporter, Physical Review Lett. 2007, 98, 177402 – 177402.

10)  M. Freitag, J. Teuscher, Y. Saygili, X. Zhang, F. Giordano, P. Liska, J. Hua, S.M. Zakeeruddin, J.-E. Moser, M. Grätzel, A. Hagfeldt, Dye-sensitized solar cells for efficient power generation under ambient lighting, Nature Photonics, 2017, 11, 372-378.

11)  H.S.Kim, C.R.Lee, J.H.Im, K.B. Lee, T. Moehl, A. Marchioro, S.J.Moon, R. R.Humphry Baker, J.H.Yum, J.E. Moser, M. Grätzel, N.G. Park, Lead Iodide Perovskite Sensitized  Mesoscopic Solar Cell with Efficiency Exceeding 9%  Scientific.Reports 2012, 2, article 591.

12)  J. Burschka, N. Pellet, S.-J. Moon, R.Humphry-Baker, P. Gao, M K. Nazeeruddin and  M. Grätzel, Sequential deposition as a route to high-performance perovskite sensitized solar cells, Nature 2013, 499, 316-319.

13)  G.C. Xing, N. Mathews, S.Y. Sun, S.S. Lim, Y.M. Lam, M. Grätzel, S. Mhaisalkar and T.C. Sum “Long-Range Balanced Electron- and Hole-Transport Lengths in Organic-Inorganic CH3NH3PbI3, Science 2013, 342, 344-347.

14)  M. Grätzel, Light and shade of perovskite solar cells, Nature Materials 2014, 13, 838-842

15)  J. Luo, J.-H. Im, M.T. Mayer, M. Schreier, Md.K. Nazeeruddin, N.-G. Park, S.D.Tilley, H.J. Fan, M. Grätzel, Water photolysis at  12.3% efficiency via perovskite photovoltaics and Earth abundant catalysts, Science 2014, 345, 1593-1596.

16)  M. Saliba, T. Matsui, K. Domanski, J.-Y. Seo, A. Ummadisingu, S.M. Zakeeruddin, J.-P. Correa-Baena, W. Tress, A. Abate, A. Hagfeldt, M. Grätzel, Incorporation of rubidium cations into perovskite solar cells improves photovoltaic performance, Science, 2016, 354, 206-209.

17)  X. Li, D. Bi, C. Yi, J.-D. Décoppet, J. Luo, S.M. Zakeeruddin, A. Hagfeldt and M.Grätzel, A vacuum flash–assisted solution process for high-efficiency large-area perovskite solar cells, Science, 2016, 353, 58-62.

18)  A.Ummadisingu, L. Steier, J.-Y. Seo, T. Matsui, A. Abate, W. Tress, M.Grätzel  The effect of illumination on the formation of metal-halide perovskite films, Nature 2017, 545, 208-212.

19)  N. Arora, M.I. Dar, A.Hinderhofer, N. Pellet, F. Schreiber, S.M. Zakeeruddin and M. Grätzel, Perovskite solar cells with CuSCN hole extraction layers yield stabilized efficiencies greater than 20 %. Science 2017, 358, 768-771.

20)  H. Lu, Y. Liu, P. Ahlawat, A. Mishra, W.R. Tress, F.T. Eickemeyer, Y. Yang, F. Fu, Z. Wang, C.E. Avalos, B.I. Carlsen, A. Agarwalla, X. Zhang, X. Li, Y. Zhan, S.M. Zakeeruddin, L. Emsley, U. Rothlisberger, L. Zheng, A. Hagfeldt, M. Grätzel, Vapor-assisted deposition of highly efficient, stable black-phase FAPbI3 perovskite solar cells. Science, 20120, 370, eabb8985.

21)  Nature 2021, 592, 381–385 ;

22)  S. C. Warren, K. Voïtchovsky, H. Dotan ,C. M. Leroy, M. Cornuz F. Stellacci,  C.   Hébert A.Rothschild and M. Grätzel  Identifying champion nanostructures for solar water-splitting Nature Materials, 2013, 12, 842–849.

23)  S. Gurudayal, K. Dharani, H. Mulmudi, L.H. Wong, J. Barber, M. Graetzel and N. Mathews Perovskite-Hematite Tandem Cells for Efficient Overall Solar Driven Water Splitting Nano Letters, 2015, 15, 3833-3839.

23)  M. Schreier, F. Heroguel, L. Steier, S. Ahmad, J. Luterbacher, M.T. Mayer, J. Luo, M. Grätzel, Solar conversion of CO2 to CO using Earth-abundant electrocatalysts prepared by atomic layer modification of CuO Nature Energy, 2, 17087 (2017).

24)  Y. Gao,TiC-Supported Pt Nanocluster Electrocatalysts and Perovkite/Silicon Tandem Cells Enabling 18.7 % Solar Water Splitting Joule 3, 1-12 (2019). DOI:

25)  S.Y. Huang, L. Kavan, I. Exnar and M. Grätzel Rocking Chair Lithium Battery Based on Nanocrystalline TiO2 (Anatase) J. Electrochem.Soc. 142, No. 9 (1995).

26)  J. Gao, H. Zhang, X. Guo, J. Luo, S.M. Zakeeruddin, D. Ren, M. Grätzel “Selective C-C Coupling in Carbon Dioxide Electroreduction via Efficient Spillover of Intermediates As Supported by Operando Raman Spectroscopy” JACS, 141, 18704-18714 (2019)