IOP Institute of Physics

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Thomas Young Medal and Prize

This award was originally "The Thomas Young Oration" of the Optical Society, instituted in 1907; it was to be 'on an optical subject'. After the Optical Society was amalgamated with The Physical Society of London in 1932 to become The Physical Society, the Council of the latter society appointed the orator. The Council of the amalgamated Institute of Physics and The Physical Society in 1961 changed the award to a medal and prize.

The physicist behind the medal
Thomas Young was an English polymath noted for having established the wave theory of light via his famous double-slit experiment, and for what is now known as Young’s modulus, which relates the stress in a body to its associated strain.

He also made contributions to the theory of colour vision, first coming up with the hypothesis that our perception of colour depends on three kinds of receptors sensitive to different wavelengths of light, and to the understanding of surface tension.

Outside of mathematics and physics he also made important contributions to medicine and to the deciphering of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The award shall be made for distinguished contributions to optics, including work related to physics outside the visible region. The medal will be silver and will be accompanied by a prize of £1,000 and a certificate.

Thomas Young medal recipients





Joseph Thomson Medal and Prize

In 2008 Council established the Joseph Thomson Medal and Prize.

The physicist behind the medal
Sir Joseph Thomson was best known for his discovery of the electron: his studies of what were then known as cathode rays showed that those rays must be made up of negatively charged particles much smaller than an atom and with a large charge: mass ratio. Thomson also pioneered mass spectroscopy and found the first evidence for the existence of isotopes of a stable element. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1906 for his investigations of the conduction of electricity by gases.

The award shall be made for distinguished contributions to atomic (including quantum optics) or molecular physics.

Joseph Thomson medal recipients


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