Becquerel Prize for Outstanding Merits in Photovoltaics

Becquerel Prize 2024 - Nomination of Candidates closed.

The Prize will be awarded during the 41th Europe Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and exhibition (EU-PVSEC).
The 41th EU-PVSEC will bring together the global PV community in the historical and lively city of Vienna, Austria, from 23th to 27th of September.

Becquerel Prize 2023

The 2023 prize is awarded to Dr. Gunter Erfurt

Dr. Gunter Erfurt receives the award for his engagement in re-establishing advanced manufacturing of silicon solar cells and modules in Europe, with his company Meyer Burger. Gunter Erfurt has lead the transformation of the company from an equipment supplier to a main European producer of solar cells and modules, ramping up highly automatized proprietary manufacturing solutions for silicon heterojunction technology with smart-wire contacting, all this under the constraint of the COVID crisis. He has been a tireless advocate for a renaissance of PV production in Europe, giving numerous talks in conferences, taking part in debates, and contributing in the media. He also regularly represented the industry in many meetings with the institutions in Europe where he became truly the “face” and "voice" for more local manufacturing. Through his actions, positions, and leadership, Dr. Erfurt is an outstanding individual in the community.

The awardee received his Phd in Physics from TU Freiberg, Germany in 2003. Then, he joined Solarworld, where he occupied various positions in USA and Germany, including as director of Solarworld Innovations. In 2015 he moved to become a director of Meyer Burger Germany, before being appointed group CTO in 2017 and CEO since April 2020. He serves on the scientific or advisory board of several institutes and associations.

On behalf of the Becquerel Prize Committee, we cordially congratulate Dr. Gunter Erfurt for this well-deserved recognition.

Christophe Ballif, Chair Becquerel Committee.

The prize was given during the opening session of the 40th European Photovoltaic Conference, which took place from 18 – 22nd September 2023 in Lisbon.
The Laudatio speech was given by Dr. Shubham Duttagupta, Vice-President & Head of R&D, New Energy Business at Reliance Industries Limited.

Becquerel Prize 2023 - Keynote speech

About the Alexandre Edmond Becquerel Prize

The Alexandre Edmond Becquerel Prize was established in 1989 by the European Commission at the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Becquerel’s classical experiment in which he discovered the photovoltaic effect. Its purpose is to honour scientific, technical or managerial merit in the development of photovoltaic solar energy, attained over a long period of continuous achievements, or very exceptionally, for some extraordinary invention or discovery. It is primarily a European Award but not restricted exclusively to European citizens. The Prize is awarded periodically to a single individual. The Prize cannot be shared nor given to an institution or team.

The Becquerel Prize Committee selects the individual to be honoured with the prize. The committee is formed by:
(a) all the past awardees,
(b) the Chairperson of the Solar Energy Conference where the prize will be awarded,
(c) one representative of the European Commission,
(d) the organiser of the conference where the prize will be awarded.

Alexandre Edmond Becquerel


The Becquerel Prize is named after Alexandre Edmond Becquereli (24 March 1820 – 11 May 1891).
Alexandre Edmond Becquerel was born in Paris and was the assistant and later the successor of his father, Antoine Cesar Becquerel, at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle.
In 1839, at the age of 19, he created and analyzed the world´s first photovoltaic cellii,iii in the laboratory of his father. The photovoltaic cell consisted of two electrodes in an acidic solution, separated by a thin membrane. He illuminated one of the electrodes. Especially when the electrodes were coated with AgCl or AgBr, he could observe a significant generation of electricity. Since he could exclude that this effect was due to temperature effects (induced by the illumination), he concluded that the light itself was the reason for his observation. Furthermore Becquerel already discovered the influence of the spectrum of light on the photovoltaic effect; he noted that blue light yielded the highest current generation.
Alexandre Edmond Becquerel was also very active in other research related to the effects of light like photography and phosphorescence. In 1867/68 he published the important book: “La lumière, ses causes et ses effets (Light, its causes and effects)”.
i not to be confused with his son Henri Becquerel who received the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of radioactivity
ii A.E. Becquerel, "Recherches sur les effets de la radiation chimique de la lumiere solaire au moyen des courants electriques", Comptes Rendus de L'Academie des Sciences, Vol. 9, pp. 145-149, 1839; also Annalen der Physik und Chemie, Vol. 54, pp. 18-34, 1841.
iii A.E. Becquerel, "Memoire sur les effects electriques produits sous I'influence des rayons solaires", Comptes Rendus de L'Academie des Sciences, Vol. 9, pp. 561- 567, 1839; also Annalen der Physik und Chemie, Vol. 54, pp. 35-42, 1841. (You may find a translation of publication iii into English here )

History of the Becquerel Prize

Find out more about the history of the Becquerel Prize here

Previous Becquerel Prize Winners


Prof. Marko Topič
Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2022
Keynote speech by the awardee 2022


Ulrike Jahn
Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2021
Keynote speech by the awardee 2021


Prof. Henry Snaith
Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2020
Keynote speech by the awardee 2020


Dr. Pierre Verlinden
Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2019
Keynote speech by the awardee 2019


Prof. Peter Würfel
Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2018
Keynote speech by the awardee 2018


Dr. Stefan Nowak
Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2017

Keynote speech by the awardee 2017


Prof. Christophe Ballif
Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2016

Keynote speech by the awardee 2016


Prof. Andrés Cuevas

Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2015

Keynote speech by the awardee 2015


Dr. Stefan Glunz

Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2014

Keynote speech by the awardee 2014


Prof. Gabriel Sala

Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2013

Keynote speech by the awardee 2013


Dr. Winfried Hoffmann

Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2012

Keynote speech by the awardee 2012


Prof. Wim Sinke

Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2011

Keynote speech by the awardee 2011


Prof. Hans-Werner Schock

Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2010
Keynote speech by the awardee 2010


Dr. Andreas W. Bett

Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2009

Keynote speech by the awardee 2009


Mechtild Rothe


Prof. Arvind Shah

Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2007
Keynote speech by the awardee 2007


Dr. Richard M. Swanson

Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2006

Keynote speech by the awardee 2006


Dr. Dieter Bonnet

Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2006

Obituary for Dr. Bonnet


Prof. Joachim Luther

Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2005

Keynote speech by the awardee 2005


Prof. Masafumi Yamaguchi

Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2004


Dr. Wolfgang Palz


Prof. Viacheslav Andreev

Diploma - Becquerel Prize 2001

Keynote speech by the awardee 2001


Frederick C. Treble


Dr. Walter Sandtner


Prof. Adolf Goetzberger

Diploma - Becquerel Prize 1997
Keynote speech by the awardee 1997


Dr. Karlheinz Krebs


Dr. Morton Prince


Prof. Antonio Luque

Diploma - Becquerel Prize 1992


Prof. Werner Bloss


Prof. Roger Van Overstraeten

Bylaws of the Becquerel Prize Committee

Please download the bylaws of the Becquerel Prize committee here

Becquerel Prize Brochure

Please download the new Becquerel Prize Brochure 1989 - 2017 here


The Chairman of the Becquerel Committee is Prof. Christophe Ballif at EPFL and CSEM.
Should you need additional information, please don't hesitate to contact Ms. Karine Frossard at EPFL, Switzerland (karine.frossard (at)