German Solar Prize for scientist for Martha Lux-Steiner

Prof. Martha Lux-Steiner has been awarded by the European Association for Renewable Energy (EUROSOLAR) for her work and involvement in research and education with the German Solar Prize.

Prof. Martha Lux-Steiner has been awarded by the European Association for Renewable Energy (EUROSOLAR) for her work and involvement in research and education with the German Solar Prize. © Roland Horn / HZB

Renowned physicist Prof. Martha Lux-Steiner, a scientist at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin, has received the German Solar Prize for 2015. The European Association for Renewable Energy (EUROSOLAR) recognised her lifetime of work and involvement in research and education with the award.

Prof. Martha Lux-Steiner heads the Institute for Heterogeneous Materials Systems at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and is Professor of Physics at Freie Universität Berlin. Over the course of her career, the renowned scientist has developed materials systems for solar cells, furthered technology transfer, involved herself in education, and supported junior scientists particularly, as her encomium set out.

Engagement fpr young scientists

She has always pioneered new approaches, not least of which by starting a summer university programme in the Swiss Alps where students from the fields of architecture, economics, and the natural sciences are absorbed with practical and theoretical aspects of renewable energy. Just in the past 20 years alone at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin, she has encouraged more than 160 scientists to pursue a career in the field of renewable energy, awakened their spirit of discovery, accompanied them on their successful ascent up the ladder of university degrees, from university graduation through to completion of their doctoral degrees, and even a few to professorships.

Outstanding example and pioneer in utilising renewable energy

The special award for personal engagement will be presented to Martha Lux-Steiner at Ibachhaus in Schwelm at a celebratory event Oct. 17, 2015. “I am immensely pleased by this public recognition”, says Lux-Steiner. The EUROSOLAR award commends persons who have acted as outstanding examples and pioneers in utilising renewable energy. She implements what she advocates, not just in the professional realm, but the personal one as well: born in Switzerland, she equipped her house in the Swiss Alps with a heat pump and a powerful six-kilowatt solar setup that produces more power than she needs for herself. The installation consists of chalcopyrite thin-film solar modules that she researched herself years ago and then developed through to full technological application. Young members from her research team at that time founded a manufacturing company that was successful for many years and had 200 employees at the peak of its success.

Solar energy has a great future

They only closed in the course of the major re-trenchment in the industry. “Despite setbacks such as these, I believe in the future, and in the European solar industry. Because there is always room for improvement, greater efficiency, and more elegance on considerably less surface area. We are preparing the path toward a sustainable supply of energy with our research, because energy from the sun will play a primary role in this”, says Lux-Steiner emphatically.

You can read a comprehensive portrait of Martha Lux-Steiner, her work, and her life in the periodical Neue Energie (sorry, article in German only).

more about EUROSOLAR here:

Biography of Prof. Martha Lux-Steiner:

Born in Switzerland, Martha Lux-Steiner’s career in the field of renewable energy began at the University of Konstanz in 1980. She was involved at that time with growing crystals of new materials for photovoltaics. She spent 1990 as a guest of Princeton University in the USA researching amorphous silicon thin-film photovoltaics. In 1995 she accepted an offer of the Hahn-Meitner Institute in Berlin to set up a new department in solar energy research as department head. Prof. Lux-Steiner has dedicated herself to researching thin films since then, while at the same time being appointed the first female full professor of physics at Freie Universität Berlin.

Martha Lux-Steiner received Germany’s Order of Merit 1st class (Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse) in 1999 presented by President Johannes Rau for her scientific achievements in the field of solar energy production and particularly for her dedication to promoting regional cooperation between industry and research.

Lux-Steiner is active on numerous national and international advisory and evaluation panels, for example the jury of the EXIST Research Transfer support programme of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) for support of spin-offs, on the Board of Directors of the Renewable Energy Research Association (Forschungsverbund Erneuerbare Energien/FVEE) and the European Photovoltaic Technology Platform. In addition, she is on national advisory panels, for instance in England and Switzerland, for evaluation and advanced development of their national energy research programmes.

Professor Lux-Steiner holds numerous patents and intellectual property rights. In addition, she received the 2004 Technology Transfer Prize of Hahn-Meitner-Institut (now HZB) together with part of her research team. In 2006 she was able to initiate and coordinate a multi-year EU project with funding of approx. 21 million Euros, making it the largest European photovoltaic research project at that time. Universities, research institutions, and commercial enterprises from eleven countries worked together to accelerate the transfer of thin-film photovoltaics from the lab to the market place that conserve natural resources and operate more efficiently.

Lux-Steiner is also open to other points of view that influence the success of solar modules – not just economic and political aspects, but aesthetic ones as well: “I think that solar modules, for example, do not need to appear so conspicuous. They could be adapted to offer greater harmony with roofs or other surfaces, or act as shimmering decorative architectural elements on façades”, she believes. In order to promote an exchange between the different academic disciplines and introduce solar energy to young people from architecture, political science and economics, as well as from the natural sciences, the professor has been conducting the two-week International Summer University on Renewable Energy since 2009 in addition to her lectures at Freie University Berlin. The ISUenergy summer university, which is financed by HZB, offers university students from all over the world a broad overview of political and economic aspects of renewable energy while working together on joint interdisciplinary projects.


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