Swiss scientist Michael Graetzel, has won the 800,000 euro international Millennium Technology Prize by his invention of a new low-cost solar cell.
Graetzel, who is director of the photonics and interfaces laboratory at Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne, was awarded the 2010 prize by the Technology Academy of Finland for his innovation.
The same competition in the past is said to have led to the development of other groundbreaking technology, including electricity-generating windows and mobile solar panels.
The institution says that finding ways to replace the fossil fuel supply is one of mankind's greatest challenges, and have stated that the sun is "the most obvious energy source".
Ainomaija Haarla, president of the academy, says: "The constraint of solar energy has traditionally been its price. Graetzel cells provide a more affordable way of harnessing solar energy. Graetzel's innovation is likely to have an important role in low-cost, large-scale solutions for renewable energy."
This latest achievement marks the fourth biennial Millennium Technology Prize awards, which were launched by the government and industry back in 2004.
The organisation have said that the award is given for achievements in energy and the environment, as well as communications and information, new materials, health care and life sciences.
Other winners include Japanese Professor Shuji Nakamura for inventions in LED lighting, and Tim Berners-Lee, the MIT scientist and inventor of the World Wide Web.
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