Saiful Islam (professor)


Saiful Islam

Saiful Islam with crystal structures
Born (1963-08-14) 14 August 1963 (age 58)
Alma materUniversity College London (BSc, PhD)
Known forChemistry of Energy Materials
Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (2016 Lecturer)
AwardsAmerican Chemical Society Award for Energy Chemistry (2020)
RSC Peter Day Award for Materials Chemistry (2017)
Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2013-2018)
RSC Sustainable Energy Award (2013)
Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, FRSC (2008)
Scientific career
FieldsMaterials chemistry
Lithium-ion batteries
Solid-state battery
Perovskite solar cells
InstitutionsUniversity of Bath
University of Surrey
The Eastman Kodak Company
University College London
Doctoral advisorRichard Catlow FRSC FRS FInstP

Saiful Islam FRSC FIMMM (born 14 August 1963) is a British chemist and professor of materials chemistry at the University of Bath. His research uses advanced computer modelling techniques to gain atomic-scale insights into new materials for clean energy applications including lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries and perovskite solar cells. He was a 2013 recipient of the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award.[1][2][3][4]

Early life and education

Saiful was born in 1963 in Karachi, Pakistan to ethnically Bengali parents.[4] The family moved to London in 1964 and he grew up in Crouch End, north London. There he went to Stationers' Company's School, a state comprehensive. He received both a BSc degree in chemistry and a PhD (1988) from University College London, where he studied under Professor Richard Catlow. Subsequently, he held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Eastman Kodak laboratories in Rochester, New York, working on oxide superconductors.[1]

Career and Research

Saiful returned to the UK in 1990 to become a lecturer, then reader, at the University of Surrey. In January 2006 he was appointed professor of Materials Chemistry at the University of Bath.[5]

His research interests lie in the field of clean energy materials, especially new materials for next generations of lithium batteries, solid-state batteries and perovskite solar cells. His group applies computational methods combined with structural techniques to study fundamental atomistic properties such as ion conduction, defect chemistry and surface structures.

He has been a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Materials Chemistry, and sits on the Advisory Board of the RSC journal Energy and Environmental Science.[6] He is Principal Investigator of the Faraday Institution 'CATMAT' project on Next-generation Lithium-Ion Cathode Materials.[7]

He presented the 2016 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, entitled "Supercharged: Fuelling the Future" on the theme of energy, a commemorative lecture series for the BBC which celebrated 80 years since the Christmas Lectures[8] were first broadcast on television in 1936.[9] The lectures were broadcast on BBC Four, and achieved over 3.5 million interactions through the BBC broadcasts and social media. Saiful was interviewed before these lectures for articles in The Guardian.[10][11][12] A demonstration in these lectures led to a Guinness World Record for the highest voltage (1,275V) produced by a fruit battery using more than 1,000 lemons.[13]

Saiful has served on the Diversity Committee of the Royal Society, and was selected for the Royal Society's 'Inspiring Scientists'[14] project that recorded the life stories of British scientists with minority ethnic heritage in partnership with National Life Stories at the British Library. His outreach activities include talks on energy materials to student audiences using 3D glasses organised by the TTP Education in Action at the UCL Institute of Education, London.[15] He was interviewed for The Life Scientific programme on BBC Radio 4 in October 2019.[16]

Personal life

Saiful lives in Bath with his wife, Dr Gita Sunthankar (a local GP), and their two children, Yasmin and Zak. In 2019, he declined a New Year Honours Award of an OBE,[17] and is on the long list of people who have declined a British honour. He is an atheist and Patron of Humanists UK.[18]

Awards and honours

Saiful is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC)[1] and a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (FIMMM).

He has received several RSC research awards including the 2017 Peter Day Award for Materials Chemistry, 2013 Sustainable Energy Award,[19] 2011 Materials Chemistry Division Lecturer Award and 2008 Francis Bacon Medal for Fuel Cell Science.[20]

From the American Chemical Society, he received the 2020 Award for Energy Chemistry.[21] with the citation: 'For his outstanding contributions to the fundamental atomistic understanding of new materials for energy storage and conversion devices, including lithium batteries and perovskite solar cells'.


  1. ^ a b c "Professor Saiful Islam". Royal Society. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Royal Society announces new round of Wolfson Research Merit Awards". The Royal Society. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Fellow (FIMMM)".
  4. ^ a b "Saiful Islam". The British Library. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Saiful Islam". University of Bath. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  6. ^ "Sustainable Energy Award 2013 Winner". RSC. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Research - Lithium-ion cathode materials CATMAT; The Faraday Institution". Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  8. ^ "Collections : Ri Channel". Ri Channel. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  9. ^ Sample, Ian (19 August 2016). "Chemistry professor to leave audience in dark at Christmas lectures". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
  10. ^ Davis, Nicola (4 December 2016). "Saiful Islam: 'You need more than one electric eel to light a Christmas tree'". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  11. ^ "Supercharged: Fuelling the future". The Royal Institution. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  12. ^ Sample, Ian (19 August 2016). "Chemistry professor to leave audience in dark at Christmas lectures". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Guinness World Records - Fruit Batteries".
  14. ^ "Inspiring Scientists: Diversity in British Science". Royal Society.
  15. ^ "Speaker Saiful Islam".
  16. ^ "Saiful Islam on materials to power the 21st century". The Life Scientific. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  17. ^ "An honour by any other name". May 2020.
  18. ^ "Professor Saiful Islam".
  19. ^ "Sustainable Energy Award 2013 Winner". Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  20. ^ "Fuel Cell Science and Technology Award - Francis Bacon Medal". Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  21. ^ "ACS Award for Energy Chemistry -Henry H. Storch Award in Energy Chemistry". Retrieved 19 May 2020.
Media offices
Preceded by Royal Institution Christmas Lecturer
Succeeded by