Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2024

Solar energy – high-efficiency colored solar panels for buildings

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The research team at Fraunhofer ISE: Andreas Wessels, Dr. Thomas Kroyer and Dr. Oliver Höhn (from left).

©  Photo: Fraunhofer / Piotr Banczerowski

Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize winners 2024:

Dr. Oliver Höhn, Dr. Thomas Kroyer and Andreas Wessels
(Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE)


All across the world, the energy transition has spurred unprecedented demand for solar panels — but they generally look out of place when installed on roofs and facades. Aesthetically appealing integration into building exteriors has been a huge challenge for researchers until now. There is a crucial balance to be struck with solar panels for building-integrated photovoltaic use: They need to behave optically like a traditional colored element while still being able to generate as much power as possible.

Taking inspiration from the 3D photonic structures on a morpho butterfly’s shimmering blue wings, Dr. Oliver Höhn, Dr. Thomas Kroyer, and Andreas Wessels at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE have developed colored solar panels that can be incorporated into a building’s exterior practically invisibly while maintaining very high efficiency.

Featuring high transparency and color saturation, the MorphoColor® technology they have developed is far superior to all comparable technologies available on the market. The plug-in solution can also be combined with all standard commercially available solar technologies as well as those foreseeable in the future, plus it can be manufactured industrially at low cost.

The jury found this technology impressive for various reasons, including “the scientific achievement, the expanded range of possibilities, even extending to protected historical spaces, and the high efficiency of these solar modules.”

Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize

Since 1978, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has awarded the annual Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize to its employees for outstanding scientific achievements in developing solutions for application-related problems.

The criteria for being awarded the research prize include the innovative nature of the scientific methodological approach, the advancement of knowledge, and the transfer of the research findings into practical applications.

This year, three Joseph von Fraunhofer Prizes will be awarded, each worth 50,000 euros. The winners will also receive a silver pin with the profile of Joseph von Fraunhofer.