Founder and President Emeritus of SunPower, Richard Swanson, has been selected as the recipient for the 2011 Karl Böer Solar Energy Medal of Merit. The honor comes with a cash award of US$50,000, which is funded by the Karl Böer Solar Energy Medal of Merit Trust. The Medal is given every two years to an individual that has made ground-breaking contributions towards the promotion of solar energy through research, development or economic enterprise or to an individual that has proven themselves with valuable and enduring contributions to the solar energy field.
As with other recipients of the award, Swanson was selected by a panel of commissioners made up of scientists and presidents from different solar energy related professional societies, a representative from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Tech Program, a past recipient of the award and a member of the Böer family. The Medal is given in honor of Karl Wolfgang Böer who was a University of Delaware faculty member, founder of UD’s Institute of Energy Conversion and an illustrious scientist in the solar cell field.
George Hadjipanayis, executive director of the Karl W Böer Solar Energy Medal of Merit Trust and the Richard Murray, professor of physics and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UD, said, “Dr. Swanson is considered a true scholar in the field of solar cell physics. He is internationally known for his work on photovoltaics where he has received numerous awards and recognition. His invention of point contact cell has revitalized the silicon cell research that led to higher efficiency levels in the whole solar electric industry.”
Among founding SunPower, Swanson and his team are credited with inventing the point contact solar cell in 1979 and the silicon concentrator solar cell in 1985. Further, Swanson and his team are viewed as pioneers in the development of semiconductor processing techniques that have allowed a thousand-fold increase in minority carrier lifetime and thus an increase in cell performance.
Among other achievements, Swanson has been recognized with the IEEE Jun-ichi Nishizawa medal in 2010, the Economist’s Energy and Environment Innovation award, the SEIA Industry Innovator Award and the IEEE William R. Cherry award.
The ceremony for the Böer Solar Energy Medal of Merit will be held May 24 in Gore Recital Hall at the University of Delaware.