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 now awarded annually for outstanding research in the field of physics.
Professor Ian Walmsley FRS was awarded the 2018 Rumford Medal for pioneering work in the quantum control of light and matter on ultrashort timescales, especially the invention and application of new techniques for characterization of quantum and classical light fields.
Professor Ortwin Hess was awarded the 2016 Rumford Medal for his pioneering work in active nano-plasmonics and optical metamaterials with quantum gain.
Professor Jeremy Baumberg FRS was awarded the 2014 Rumford Medal 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.
See full list of all past winners of the Rumford Medal.