Atoms in action (Friday Evening Discourse)

7.50pm to 9.15pm, Friday 27 June

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • Prof Pratibha Gai working on her microscope

    Prof Pratibha Gai working on her microscope

    Credit: Julian Dufort for the L’Oréal Foundation


Guest £17


Associates £11


Free to Members, Faraday Members and Fellows

Event description

Chemical reactions are the backbone of technologies at the heart of modern society, but what is happening at the atomic level?  Professor Pratibha Gai will explain how she has developed an atomic resolution-environmental transmission electron microscope (atomic resolution-ETEM) so that, for the first time, the human eye can see and analyse how atoms move and change positions in crystal structures during chemical reactions. She’ll explore the far-reaching applications of being able to watch atoms in action in important chemical reactions involved in anything from medicine production to the creation of new energy sources.

Please note

If you haven't been before, please note that Friday Evening Discourses are traditional events that date back to 1825. With that in mind, many attendees like to wear smart evening dress, though this is not a requirement.

Find out more about the history of the Friday Evening Discourses on our blog.

About the speaker

Pratibha L Gai is the Professor and Chair of Electron Microscopy in the departments of physics and chemistry at the University of York. She is also co-director of the York JEOL Nanocentre in the university.

She created the first microscope which was able to perceive chemical reactions at the atomic scale, advancing the technology in other microscopes. The team's work probes dynamic catalysis at the atomic level, in real-time, under controlled conditions of temperature and environment.

Pratibha is originally from India, and got her PhD in Physics from the Cavendish Laboratory at University of Cambridge. Her work has now been recognised through a number of awards, including a L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science award as the 2013 Laureate for Europe and the Institute of Physics 2010 Gabor Medal.


This event will be filmed and available to watch on the Ri Channel soon after the event has finished.

You can find all previous events that have been filmed in the Ri Events collection. Or make sure you don't miss one by subscribing to our YouTube Channel.

Become a member

Benefit from free and better than half-price tickets, special offers and access to the CHRISTMAS LECTURES ticket ballot.

Join todayGo