The Frankland Award recognised outstanding contributions to pure and applied research in organometallic chemistry or coordination chemistry. The award was discontinued in 2020, as part of a series of changes introduced following an independent review of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s recognition programmes.
The award was named after the first President and cofounder of the Institute of Chemistry, which later merged with the Faraday Society, the Chemical Society and the Society for Analytical Chemistry to form the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Frankland was born in 1825 in Lancashire, UK, and began his career in chemistry as a pharmacist’s apprentice. Towards the end of his apprenticeship Frankland started studying at the Lancaster Mechanics’ Institute, and in 1845 went to Westminster to briefly work in the laboratory of Lyon Playfair.
Frankland studied for a PhD at the University of Marburg, where he began to establish the idea of compounds consisting of carbon bonded to metal atoms (organometallic chemistry). Frankland returned to the UK in 1850 to replace the retiring Playfair as Professor at Putney for Civil Engineers. Over the following decades Frankland continued to teach chemistry at Owen’s College Manchester, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Addiscombe Military College, The Royal Institution of Great Britain and The Royal School of Mines.
Frankland made several contributions to organic and structural chemistry. In addition to being a pioneer in organometallic chemistry, Frankland established the theory of valency, where an atom of an element is limited in the number of atoms it can bind with from other elements. He also coined the term “bonds” to describe connections between atoms in his 1866 book “Lecture Notes for Chemical Students: Embracing Mineral and Organic Chemistry”.
In 1869 Frankland was appointed a member of the second royal commission on the pollution of rivers, where he gathered a large amount of data on water contamination and methods of water purification over a period of decades. Frankland also contributed to the discovery of the element helium through his work with Joseph Lockyer on how light from luminous flames changes with atmospheric pressure.
Accolades Frankland received included the Royal Society Royal Medal and Copley Medal, and a knighthood in 1897.
The award was established in 1981 through an anonymous donation. In 2021, the purposes of this Trust were amended, and remaining monies were combined with other generous bequests and donations to become part of the RSC Recognition Fund.