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Rumford Medal

For outstanding research in the field of the physics of materials.

Benjamin Thompson FRS

The award

This medal is awarded for important discoveries in the field of thermal or optical properties of matter and their applications. Notable recipients include Michael Faraday and Louis Pasteur.

The award was established following a donation by Benjamin Thompson FRS (PDF), Count Rumford of the Holy Roman Empire, an American-born former soldier, spy, statesman and scientist who would go on to found the Royal Institution. The first award was made in 1800.

The Rumford Medal is awarded biennially (in even years) for 'For outstanding research in the field of the physics of materials.'


The call for nominations is now closed. The next round of nominations will open in November 2017.

If possible the Committee will award the medal to an early-to-mid career stage scientist. The award must be made to a scientist working in Europe.

The recipient is chosen by the Council of the Royal Society on the recommendation of the Physical Sciences Awards Committee. The committee will consider the nomination a maximum of 3 times, before the nomination is retired. Re-nomination is possible after 1 round has passed.The medal is of silver gilt and is accompanied by a gift of £2,000.

The award is open to citizens of a Commonwealth country or of the Irish Republic or those who have been ordinarily resident and working in a Commonwealth country or in the Irish Republic for a minimum of three years immediately prior to being proposed.

Past winners

Professor Jeremy Baumberg FRS was awarded the Rumford Medal in 2014 for his outstanding creativity in nanophotonics, investigating many ingenious nanostructures, both artificial and natural to support novel plasmonic phenomena relevant to Raman spectroscopy, solar cell performance and meta-materials applications.

Roy Taylor was awarded the Medal in 2012 for his outstanding contributions to tunable ultrafast lasers and nonlinear fibre optics, including fibre Raman, soliton and supercontinuum laser sources, which translated fundamental discoveries to practical technology.

See full list of all past winners of the Rumford Medal.