In Memory of Prof. Adolf Goetzberger

It is with great sadness that we bid farewell to the founder of Fraunhofer ISE, Prof. Adolf Goetzberger, who passed away on February 24, 2023 at the age of 94. In him, the photovoltaics industry loses an esteemed scientist and visionary mastermind. And we lose in him a tireless provider of ideas and a good friend, who accompanied the Institute with lively interest into his old age.

Academic work

After studying experimental physics, Adolf Goetzberger received his doctorate from the University of Munich in 1955 and subsequently worked with Nobel Prize winner William Shockley in Palo Alto, California, and at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. In 1968, he returned to Germany and became director of the Fraunhofer Institute IEW (Institute for Electrical Materials), which he renamed IAF (Institute for Applied Solid State Physics). In 1971, Mr. Goetzberger was appointed honorary professor at the Faculty of Physics by the University of Freiburg and in this capacity supervised numerous diploma theses and doctoral dissertations.

His growing interest in solar energy utilization led to the conception and patenting of the fluorescent collector (Fluko) in 1977. In the face of political resistance, he succeeded in founding Fraunhofer ISE on July 1, 1981 as a spin-off of a Fraunhofer IAF working group for solar energy systems. The institute, in which the unity of solar energy and energy systems technology was conceived from the beginning, quickly grew to become one of the leading institutes for solar research. Prof. Goetzberger headed Fraunhofer ISE until his retirement in 1993.

Adolf Goetzberger held more than 30 patents. His idea of agrivoltaics, developed together with Armin Zastrow as early as 1981, is experiencing its breakthrough today. In many expert committees, boards of trustees, commissions and working groups his cooperation and judgment were highly appreciated. For example, Prof. Goetzberger was president of the German Society for Solar Energy (DGS) from 1993 to 1997.

Prizes and honors

  • 1983: J. J. Ebers Award of the IEEE Electron Devices Society for the development of the silicon field-effect transistor
  • 1989: Medal of Merit of the State of Baden-Württemberg
  • 1992: Federal Cross of Merit, First Class
  • 1993: Achievement through Action Award of the ISES
  • 1995: Honorary doctorate from Uppsala University and Farrington Daniels Award from ISES
  • 1997: Karl Boer Medal, Becquerel Prize and William R. Cherry Award
  • 2006: Einstein Award of the Solar World AG and European Solar Award of the EUROSOLAR
  • 2009: European Inventor Award of the European Patent Office in the category "Lifetime Achievement“

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Adolf Goetzberger at this difficult time.

We bow to the life's work of Adolf Goetzberger and are deeply grateful for his services to the development of solar energy systems and thus his great contribution to a global energy transition.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Bett and Prof. Dr. Hans-Martin Henning

Institute Directors, Fraunhofer ISE