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Making a material difference to green energy - batteries included (Discourse)

Join 2016 CHRISTMAS LECTURES presenter Saiful Islam as he explores the huge challenge of sustainable energy.

Saiful Islam

Event description

The supply of clean sustainable energy is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Better batteries for electric cars and solar power for homes require advances in new materials and underpinning science. Using 3D glasses, Saiful Islam will show how atomic-scale modelling and structural chemistry are helping us explore new energy materials for a low carbon future.

About the speaker

Saiful Islam is Professor of Materials Chemistry at the University of Bath and presented the 80th anniversary CHRISTMAS LECTURES (2016) on the theme of energy.

He grew up in Crouch End, London and completed a chemistry degree and PhD at University College London under Richard Catlow FRS, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Eastman Kodak Labs in New York, USA, and a lectureship at the University of Surrey. His research interests include computer modelling of new materials for lithium and sodium batteries, solid oxide fuel cells and perovskite solar cells.

Saiful is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and has received several research awards including the RSC Peter Day Award for Materials Chemistry (2017) and Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2013). He sits on the Public Engagement Committee of the Royal Society and is a Patron of Humanists UK. When he is not exploring new materials, he enjoys family breaks, indie music (the Smiths et al), football, and the chemicals gin & tonic.

More about Discourses

Discourses are one of the Ri’s oldest and most prestigious series of talks. Since 1825, audiences in the theatre have witnessed countless mind-expanding moments, including the first public liquefaction of air by James Dewar, the announcement of the electron by J.J. Thomson and over 100 lectures by Michael Faraday. In more recent times, we have had Nobel laureates, Fields medal winners, scientists, authors and artists – all from the cutting-edge of their field. Discourses are an opportunity for the best and brightest to share their work with the world.

Steeped in nearly two centuries of tradition, a Discourse is more than just a lecture. To keep the focus on the topic, presenters begin sharply at 7:30pm without introduction and we lock the speaker into a room ten minutes ahead of the start (legend has it that a speaker once tried to escape!) We also ask guests to dress smartly to add to the sense of occasion.

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


Discourses are free for Ri Members and Ri Patrons. Join us today and support us on our mission.

Food and Drink

The Atrium cafe will be open before and after the talk. Check out the delicious menu and call 020 7670 2973 or email to reserve your table.

There will also be a cash bar before the Discourse, where you can relax, meet likeminded people with an interest in science, and have a drink.

Dress code

The dress code for this event is smart (ties optional, no jeans or trainers). Please note, if you are not dressed smartly you may be asked to sit in the gallery.

Timing note

Please be aware that this Discourse starts at 7.30pm, but all attendees must be seated in the theatre by 7.20pm. 

The doors will open at approximately 6.45pm.


This event will be filmed and on the Ri's YouTube channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.