Sir Andre Geim wins Royal Society Copley Medal

22 July 2013

Sir Andre Geim FRS has been awarded the Copley Medal, which is believed to be the world’s oldest scientific prize. Geim receives the medal for numerous scientific contributions and, in particular, his work on graphene.

The Copley medal was first awarded by the Royal Society in 1731, 170 years before the first Nobel Prize. It is awarded for outstanding achievements in scientific research and has been awarded to such eminent scientists as Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

Graphene is sheets of carbon just one atom thick - the very same material that makes up pencil's lead but with record-breaking mechanical strength and electronic properties. It was discovered at the University of Manchester in 2004 and is now widely acknowledged as a ‘super-material’ with countless applications ranging from flexible electronic screens or "e-paper" to drug delivery and regenerative medicine.

As well as the Copley Medal, the Royal Society has today announced all of the recipients of its awards, medals and prize lectures. The scientists receive the awards in recognition of their achievements in a wide variety of fields of research.

Geim’s collaborator at the University of Manchester, Professor Sir Konstantin Novoselov, receives the Royal Society’s Leverhulme Medal this year. The two shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010.

Geim and Novoselov have published numerous research papers demonstrating the many applications of graphene including ultrafast transistors just one atom thick – making it a potential successor to silicon – and sensors that can detect just a single molecule of a toxic gas.

Of his award Professor Sir Andre Geim FRS said:

“I am absolutely delighted to receive this old and prestigious award. Not only am I humbled, I also feel younger.

“I especially appreciate that the medal recognizes my post-Nobel work on atomically-thin materials and their smart assemblies, this new research field is richer and even more exciting than graphene itself.”

Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, said:

“I’m delighted that the Copley Medal has been awarded to Andre Geim this year. His work on graphene could truly revolutionise technologies. Chancellor George Osborne highlighted graphene as one of the many exciting areas of science the UK should exploit during his speech on science as a UK economic driver given at the Royal Society. He has since backed that up with funding and I’m in no doubt that we’ll see exciting developments from Geim, his collaborator Novoselov and graphene in the next few years.”

The full list of Royal Society Awards, Medals and Prize Lectures announced today is as follows:


Copley Medal                                                          

Professor Sir Andre Geim FRS for his numerous scientific contributions and, in particular, for initiating research on two”dimensional atomic crystals and their artificial heterostructures.

Royal Medals                                                          

Professor Rodney Baxter FRS for his remarkable exact solutions of fundamental models in statistical mechanics.  

Sir Walter Bodmer FRS for seminal contributions to population genetics, gene mapping and understanding of familial genetic disease.

Professor Peter Wells FRS for pioneering the application of the physical and engineering sciences to the development of ultrasonics as a diagnostic and surgical tool which has revolutionised clinical practice.


Davy Medal

Professor Graham Hutchings FRS for the discovery of catalysis by gold and for his seminal contributions to this new field of chemistry.

Gabor Medal

Professor Christofer Toumazou FREng FRS for his success in applying semiconductor technology to biomedical and life-science applications, most recently to DNA analysis.

Hughes Medal

Professor Henning Sirringhaus FRS for his pioneering development of inkjet printing processes for organic semiconductor devices, and dramatic improvement of their functioning and efficiency.

Leverhulme Medal

Professor Sir Konstantin Novoselov FRS for revolutionary work on graphene, other two”dimensional crystals and their heterostructures that has great potential for a number of applications, from electronics to energy.

Buchanan Medal

Professor Douglas Higgs FRS for his seminal work on the regulation of the human alpha-globin gene cluster and the role of the ATRX protein in genetic disease.


Michael Faraday Prize and Lecture

Professor Frank Close OBE for his excellent work in science communication.

GlaxoSmithKline Prize

Dr Nicholas Lydon FRS for the development of the drug imatinib, a targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor that has transformed the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukaemia (CML) and is a paradigm for cancer drug discovery.

Rosalind Franklin Award

Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore for her scientific achievements and her proposal to promote women in STEM.

Kohn Award

Professor Peter Vukusic for his excellence in engaging with society in matters of science and its societal dimension.

Milner Award

Dr Serge Abiteboul in recognition of his world leading database research with significant scientific and industrial impact.

Royal Society Pfizer Award

Dr Abdoulaye Diabate for his important work on the identification of mosquito swarming cues, which opens up new possibilities for malaria vector control.


Bakerian Lecture                                                   

Professor Lynn Gladden CBE FREng FRS for her work in the development of magnetic resonance techniques to study multi-component adsorption, diffusion, flow and reaction processes.

Croonian Lecture                                                   

Professor Brigid Hogan FRS for pioneering contributions that have transformed understanding of cell specification, organogenesis and morphogenesis in mammalian development.                              

Clifford Paterson Lecture                                                

Professor Polina Bayvel FREng for her fundamental research in high bandwidth digital communications and nonlinear optics.

Francis Crick Lecture                                                        

Dr Duncan Odom for his pioneering work in the field of comparative functional genomics, which has changed our understanding of the evolution of mammalian transcriptional regulation.

Find further information on the Royal Society’s Awards, Medals and Prize Lecture.