Alan J. Heeger, the co-founder and chief scientist of Lowell, Mass.-headquartered Konarka Technologies Inc., a developer of polymer photovoltaic (PV) technology, has received the 2006 Eni Italgas Science and Environment award.
Heeger shares the award with Armand Paul Alivisatos for his research on thin solar cells composed of miniscule photosensitive crystals (nanocrystals). In his studies, Heeger has created a new approach to efficient, low-cost, flexible and lightweight solar cells. The first ‘plastic’ solar cells fabricated from large-scale, high-speed printing machines were successfully demonstrated in July 2006.
In 1987, Italgas, a natural gas supplier based in Italy, instituted the Italgas prize for Research and Technological Innovation for a 10-year period to promote social and civil development fields. In July 2002, the company's board of directors launched a new three-year cycle of the award and extended the eligibility worldwide.