Solar tech, chicken chatter get top science prizes

World leading research goes on display

Developments in solar energy research, chicken chat analysis and the search for the perfect sunscreen are among the 19 winning entries in this year’s Eureka Prizes for science held by the Australian Museum in Sydney.

For his research on photovoltaic solar energy systems, professor Martin Green, research director of the ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence at the University of NSW, took out the 2010 CSIRO Eureka Prize for leadership in science.

Dubbed “the father of photovoltaics”, Australian Museum director Frank Howarth said Green is the global leader in solar cell technology and has had a real impact by taking the technology out of the laboratory and into the factory.

Green, who takes away $10,000 with the award, has been involved with photovoltaic research for some 30 years and holds the world record for silicon cell efficiency, including the present record of 25 per cent.

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes turn 21 this year and continues to reward excellence in scientific research, science in schools and science communication.

This year, for the first time, the awards have included prizes for early career research, medical research translation, innovation in computer science and advancement of climate change knowledge.

Another award and $10,000 went to Dr K-lynn Smith and professor Chris Evans from the Centre for the Integrative Study of Animal Behaviour at Macquarie University for research into how chickens communicate.

Smith and Evans’ work portrays chickens as social, intelligent creatures that can adjust what they say according to who is listening.

The work includes evidence of non-human animals signalling with nouns and has won the 2010 Voiceless Eureka Prize for scientific research that contributes to animal protection.

"Changing the perception of chickens' cognitive abilities is key to building a consensus for reforming intensive farming practices," Howarth said.

The Eureka Prizes is online at

Rodney Gedda is Editor of TechWorld Australia. Follow Rodney on Twitter at @rodneygedda. Rodney's e-mail address is Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter at @Techworld_AU.

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Tags solar energysolar powerMacquarie UniversityEureka AwardsunswAustralian museum

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