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News Release: Nozik wins UN science and technology prize for solar research

June 11, 2009

Senior Research Fellow Arthur J. Nozik of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has won the 2009 Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Organization (IREO) Award for Science and Technology. IREO is a new international organization related to the United Nations.

The IREO/UN award recognizes energy innovators who are "leading the way of global development through renewable energy, with the strength to challenge conventional wisdom and encourage critical thinking."

Dr. Nozik will receive his prize in a June 11th ceremony and reception at the UN in New York City. Prior to the evening gala, Dr. Nozik will deliver the keynote address at an IREO renewable energy conference.

"The present energy crisis and the related problem of severe global climate change associated with the accelerating use of fossil fuels to supply the world’s growing energy demands cannot be addressed and timely solutions obtained without major international research and development efforts to produce low-cost carbon-free or carbon-neutral energy, new energy policies and strategies, and intergovernmental cooperation and coordination," Dr. Nozik said. "The formation of the Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Organization is an important international step forward toward achieving these critical objectives."

Dr. Nozik and his NREL colleagues have proposed and confirmed several new important concepts in photoelectrochemistry and solar photoconversion that may help revolutionize advanced solar energy research. He and his research colleagues specialize in working with semiconductor nanocrystals, such as silicon and other semiconducting materials a billionth of a meter in size –  also known as quantum dots. They operate in a much larger portion of the light spectrum than what is used by conventional photovoltaic cells and can produce several electrons from one absorbed photon of sunlight. This process, known as multiple exciton generation (MEG), has the potential to markedly increase the efficiency of solar cells. For more on this research, visit

Ultimately, the goal of Dr. Nozik and his NREL team is to directly convert the sun's energy into electricity and fuels at a cost equivalent to or lower than the cost of coal. This would make the large-scale use of clean and carbon-free solar power more affordable, particularly in developing countries where energy demands are soaring.

"We must extend the frontiers of basic scientific knowledge to develop a new generation of renewable energy technologies," said NREL director Dr. Dan Arizu. "The IREO/UN Prize affirms that Dr. Nozik's research is fundamental to protecting the climate and establishing a clean energy economy."

The IREO Award is the second international prize Dr. Nozik has received in the past year. In 2008 he was awarded the Eni Award by the President of Italy.

He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

For more information on the 2009 IREO Award visit,

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.


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