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PAST WINNERS IN THE CATEGORY Materials, Resources & Water

2017 - Materials, Resources & Water - Category Winner

MIT Thin Film Solar Cells

The world’s thinnest solar photovoltaic cells are so light they can sit on a bubble Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed the thinnest, lightest solar cell ever made. The key to developing such a thin and light cell is its unique fabrication method. Solar cells are normally made up of layers of photovoltaic materials and a glass or plastic substrate. Rather that fabricating each layer, the MIT researchers created all three parts of their solar cell at the same time. The result is a solar cell so thin that it can be embedded onto materials that are light and flexible like fabric or paper. The thickness of the cells are about 1/50th the thickness of a strand of hair and to demonstrate this, the researchers from Vladimir Bulović’s lab at MIT placed the cell on a soap bubble. Light weight, and able to get more power from the sun (400 times more power per weight than silicon-based cells), means these kinds of thin solar cells could be useful for high-altitude balloons and even as coatings on buildings to collect endless power from the sun. This is the latest in the string of solar advancements from the Bulović group, which aim to redefined the form and function of solar technologies, in order to accelerate their proliferation and adoption. These include the flexible solar cells printed on paper and resilient to repeated flexing and heating cycles; semi-transparent solar cell films integrated into every day objects, such as sunglasses lenses that generate power upon solar illumination; and, fully transparent solar cells that appear invisible (as they do not absorb any visible light, but do absorb infra-red and ultra-violet radiation) and can serve as see-through windows that generate power. The most recent ultra-light solar technology from the Bulović group, described above, can generate over 6 kiloWatts per kilogram, which when further combined with his other solar advancements could usher an era of ultra-light, invisible, solar-active thin film coatings, that would redefine the form and function of solar cells, assisting their rapid and widespread proliferation.
2018 - Materials, Resources & Water - Category Winner


Geopolymers are the new inorganic materials with a polymer structure of molecules. They possess high strength and a range of specific properties that exceed those of natural stone: High resistance to various acids and aggressive substances, and high sulphur resistance due to the absence of сalcium compounds in the structure; Excellent waterproof properties are achieved thanks to mesoporous structure of the material,  big molecules like water can't enter in the geopolymer matrix even if they are pushed using external forces.
2012 - Materials, Resources & Water - Category Winner

Pasteurization Technology Group

This San Leandro, California startup is trying to revolutionize the disinfection of wastewater by combining it with renewable energy generation. Most wastewater is treated with chemicals like chlorine or energy-sucking UV light. PTG uses methane produced in wastewater treatment, and a turbine, to produce electricity for treatment facilities and to sell back to the energy grid. The exhaust from the turbine is also used to heat-pasteurize the water. The system is more than 90% energy efficient.
2014 - Materials, Resources & Water - Category Winner

Modern Meadow

Modern Meadow is developing fundamentally new approaches to growing animal products. This includes cultured leather and meat products which require no animal slaughter and much lower inputs of land, water, energy and chemicals. The company aims to help fashion designers and makers of leather goods meet the increasing global demand for their wares without taking such a toll on animals and the environment. The Brooklyn startup uses a tissue engineering technique called “biofabrication,” to grow leather from skin cells in trays in a lab. The company is also developing biofabricated meat, fish and poultry from muscle cells.
2015 - Materials, Resources & Water - Category Winner


Nanoly is a safe and proprietary polymer shield that stabilizes and protects vaccines and eliminates the need for refrigeration.
2015 - Materials, Resources & Water - Category Winner

Nebia Shower

Nebia Shower is a shower system that uses 70% less water than a typical shower while wetting more thoroughly and in a larger area.
2019 - Materials, Resources & Water - Category Winner


At PulpWorks offers an all-pulp-and-paper alternative to plastic packaging. The moulded pulp provides packaging protection drawing on insights from the disciplines of geometry and architecture. Configurations effectively nest and stack, reducing shipping costs and storage space. And no assembly is required: structures are designed for speed and simplicity - making them ready and easy-to-use in our customers’ facilities.

Materials, Resources & Water

Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting.

Richard Buckminster Fuller, Inventor
A truly sustainable world is one that produces not a single grain of waste. This require efforts at both ends of the waste cycle. Resources must be used hyper-efficiently and materials must be made entirely recyclable. This category covers advancements in man-made materials, resource efficiency, waste reduction and water management. All of which are critical to making a sustainable positive impact in the other award categories.

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