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Fellows Directory

John Rowlinson

Sir John Rowlinson FREng FRS


Elected: 1970


John Rowlinson is a physical chemist with distinguished research into cohesion and capillary action — two key ways in which matter ‘sticks together’. John discovered the wide existence of lower critical solution temperatures below which two or more substances will mix completely in all proportions. John made significant contributions to the theoretical description of intermolecular forces, such as his temperature-dependent hard sphere model of repulsive components of intermolecular forces.

John is also passionate about the history of physical chemistry and understanding the development of the field. This includes seminal biographical work on Dutch theoretical physicist, Johannes van der Waals, including a translation of van der Waals’s doctoral thesis.

John has written many books including the acclaimed, Cohesion (2002). He has received many accolades including the Faraday Lectureship Prize in 1983 from the Royal Society of Chemistry. For his contributions to promoting and understanding the history of chemistry, he received the 2008 Edelstein Award. He was knighted in 2000.

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


History of chemistry and Physics, Physical chemistry, Statistical mechanics, Thermodynamics


  • Leverhulme Medal

    Distinguished for his contributions to thermodynamics, in particular to an understanding of the physical chemistry of gas-liquid interfaces and surfaces.