Before the 4th ZKS/EPFL Award will be attributed on October 3rd 2014, a brief update about what the first three awardees have become

1. Dr. Kevin Sivula:

Kevin Sivula explaining his research work to ZKS President

Kevin Sivula explaining his research work to ZKS President, EPFL Lausanne, October 2011

After receiving the ZKS/EPFL Award in October 2011, Kevin Sivula established the Laboratory for molecular engineering of optoelectronic nanomaterials (LIMNO) at EPFL as a Tenure Track Assistant Professor. Research in LIMNO has been directed to engineering new, inexpensive, and solution-processable semiconductor materials and implementing them into high performance devices—especially for solar energy conversion. In 2012 LIMNO researchers published a record solar-to-fuel energy conversion with inexpensively-processed materials ( This discovery was featured in a EPFL press release ( In 2013 Sivula was awarded the prestigious ERC starting grant for the development of innovative methods of “bottom-up” crystal engineering for solution-processed organic semiconductors ( The highly interdisciplinary approach of the proposed work, which combines material synthesis and device fabrication/evaluation, is expected to lead to improvements in the performance and stability of organic photovoltaic devices. In addition to research advances, Sivula is also developing new teaching curriculum in chemical engineering at EPFL. He has created new practical coursework focusing on energy conversion, storage and use in effort to train students for a changing focus in industry. More information is also available on the LIMO website:

2. Dr. Corsin Battaglia:

Dr. Corsin Battaglia at UCLA, Berkeley

Dr. Corsin Battaglia at UCLA, Berkeley, ZKS President visiting in San Francisco November 2013

Corsin Battaglia erforscht und entwickelt als neuer Leiter der Abteilung «Materials for Energy Conversion» durch innovative Methoden neuartige Funktionsmaterialien. Er tritt die Nachfolge von Anke Weidenkaff an, die letztes Jahr einem Ruf an die Universität Stuttgart gefolgt ist.
Corsin Battaglia wird neuer Leiter der Empa-Abteilung «Materials for Energy Conversion».
Battaglia hat seine Dissertation in Physik 2008 an der Université de Neuchâtel über selbstorganisierte Nanostrukturen auf Siliziumoberflächen abgeschlossen. 2009 ging er an die EPF Lausanne, wo er an neuartigen Konzepten für das Lichtmanagement in Solarzellen arbeitete. Seit 2012 hat er eine gemeinsame Anstellung an der «University of California, Berkeley», und am «Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory»; im Fokus seiner Forschung stehen Innovationen im Bereich von Materialen und Baugruppen für elektronische sowie Energie-Anwendungen. Für seine Arbeiten ist Battaglia 2012 mit dem Zeno Karl Schindler Forschungspreis für Umwelttechnik und Nachhaltigkeit ausgezeichnet worden. Durch seine Veröffentlichungen im Bereich Material- und Oberflächenwissenschaften sowie (opto-)elektronische Anwendungen hat sich Corsin Battaglia einen hervorragenden internationalen Ruf erworben. Der neue Abteilungsleiter hat die Empa-Direktion vor allem durch sein interdisziplinäres, lösungsorientiertes Denken, sein nationales und internationales Netzwerk in Forschung und Industrie und seinen Leistungsausweis beim Verknüpfen von Grundlagenforschung und industrieller Entwicklung überzeugt.

3. Dr. Guillermo Barrenetxea:

Guillermo Barrenetxea explaining Sensorscope

Guillermo Barrenetxea explaining Sensorscope to ZKS President at EPFL, October 2013

After having accomplished the Sensorscope project (see hereafter) and successfully provisioned the start-up Sensorscope (, Barrenetxea is now active as technical project leader at Swisscom’s Innovation Department Berne. What is Sensorscope?
The natural environment is undergoing dramatic changes, yet all too often we cannot provide satisfactory answers to open questions, such as “how much change is anticipated?” or “what are the main causes and consequences of such change?”. A prominent example of such change is global warming, which strongly influences alpine ecosystem and hydrologic function as well as the formation of hazards from alpine peaks to valley bottoms. The primary limitation to address these socially relevant questions has been the essential lack of appropriate spatial and temporal environmental observations across the landscape in which environmental engineers and scientists can test and validate models which simulate future scenarios and make real-time predictions.
Until now, there have been only limited field campaigns with in-situ spatial observations. These campaigns have generally focused on deploying relatively few “expensive” sensing stations limiting the spatial coverage. The high cost of such systems makes it difficult for scientists to deploy a large number of sensing units. Furthermore, such instruments commonly use data loggers attached to the sensing devices to store their data. Such a storing technique suffers from limited capacity and does not allow the user to get an immediate feedback from the system. Indeed, one must physically go to each monitoring station in order to download their data. As a result, using or monitoring such a system can quickly become time consuming and tedious.
The SensorScope project addressed these issues by developing a large-scale distributed environmental measurement system centered on a wireless sensor network with a built-in capacity to produce high temporal and spatial density measures. This innovative system is composed of multiple solar-powered sensing stations which communicate wirelessly, constituting a sensor network. The sensing stations measured key environmental data such as air temperature and humidity, surface temperature, incoming solar radiation, wind speed and direction, precipitation, soil water content, and soil water suction. The design of the sensing stations was conceived with the following baseline requirements: low energy consumption, long communication range, low cost, simple installation, energy autonomy, high-quality data, water resistance and the prospect of retrieving data in real-time.