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IET Awards - J J Thomson Medal for Electronics

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J J Thomson Medal for Electronics


The J J Thomson Medal was inaugurated in 1976.  It was set up by the Electronics Divisional Board of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE).

The J J Thomson Medal is awarded to candidates who have made major and distinguished contributions in electronics.

The Medal is awarded without restriction regarding nationality, country of residence or membership of the IET. Recipients of the award are chosen by the IET Awards and Prizes Committee and are endorsed by the IET Knowledge Management Board. 

The winner of the J J Thomson Medal is invited to the IET Achievement Awards ceremony, which is held in November each year, to receive the Medal and certificate.  Background information on the J J Thomson Medal for Electronics can be found in the Fact Sheet

How to nominate 

Nominations can be made by clicking onto the online nomination form on the right hand side. We welcome nominations for women and men from around the world whose achievements have conferred great benefit on the UK and its people. You do not need to be an IET Member to make a nomination or be nominated.

Please note only one nomination is required per candidate and self-nominations will not be accepted.


J J Thomson Winners


Image of Mau Chung Frank Chang   The J J Thomson Medal for Electronics is awarded to Professor Mau-Chung Frank Chang, President of the National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan. He is also the Wintek Distinguished Chair Professor in Electrical Engineering, UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. Professor Chang realized MOCVD GaAs HBTs and CMOS Systems-on-Chip for RF-to-Terahertz radio, radar, imaging and interconnect applications. His research created new methodologies to design and fabricate reliable semiconductor heterojunction devices and new algorithms to sense/transmit/receive data with unprecedented bandwidth and resolution. He is a proven leader who has substantially shaped modern high-speed electronics. His work has influenced the design and production of modern day mobile phones. In 2016, more than 2.5 billion mobile-phones were shipped with GaAs-HBT amplifiers to fulfill required transmission linearity and efficiency.



Image of Professor Alan E Willner PhD

The J J Thomson Medal for Electronics was awarded to Professor Alan E Willner PhD, Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California for 28 years of pioneering contributions to optical communications that have significantly improved the performance of high-capacity, multiplexed systems while focusing on fundamental limitations and practical applications. His research has enabled commercially impactful solutions to critical problems for correcting optical impairments in multiple-wavelength systems that improve reliability and lower the cost of services. Critical advances include tunable chromatic dispersion compensation, emulation of degrading polarization effects, and spatial multiplexing using orbital angular momentum.”


Image of Asad Madni   The J J Thomson Medal for Electronics was awarded to Dr Asad Madni BS MS CEng FIET, Distinguished Professor, UCLA, whose visionary leadership and pioneering contributions to science and technology are known worldwide. He has served as President, COO and CTO of BEI Technologies where he developed the MEMS GyroChip technology, the world's first commercialization of MEMS Gyroscopes and sensors for automotive safety and aerospace applications. 


See also

Previous J J Thomson Medal winners

Sir J J Thomson OM MA FRS

Sir Joseph John “J.J.” Thompson (1856 to 1940) was a British physicist credited with discovering electrons and isotopes.

He was awarded the Faraday Medal in 1925.

Biography of J J Thomson

Sir J J Thomson OM MA FRS photo Joseph John Thomson was born in Cheetham Hill, a suburb of Manchester on December 18, 1856. He enrolled at Owens College, Manchester, in 1870, and in 1876 entered Trinity College, Cambridge as a minor scholar. He became a Fellow of Trinity College in 1880, when he was Second Wrangler and Second Smith's Prizeman, and he remained a member of the College for the rest of his life, becoming Lecturer in 1883 and Master in 1918. He was Cavendish Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge, where he succeeded Lord Rayleigh, from 1884 to 1918 and Honorary Professor of Physics, Cambridge and Royal Institution, London.

Thomson's early interest in atomic structure was reflected in his Treatise on the Motion of Vortex Rings which won him the Adams Prize in 1884. His Application of Dynamics to Physics and Chemistry appeared in 1886, and in 1892 he had his Notes on Recent Researches in Electricity and Magnetism published. This latter work covered results obtained subsequent to the appearance of James Clerk Maxwell's famous "Treatise" and it is often referred to as "the third volume of Maxwell". Thomson co-operated with Professor J. H. Poynting in a four-volume textbook of physics, Properties of Matter and in 1895 he produced Elements of the Mathematical Theory of Electricity and Magnetism, the 5th edition of which appeared in 1921.

In 1896, Thomson visited America to give a course of four lectures, which summarised his current researches, at Princeton. These lectures were subsequently published as Discharge of Electricity through Gases (1897). On his return from America, he achieved the most brilliant work of his life - an original study of cathode rays culminating in the discovery of the electron, which was announced during the course of his evening lecture to the Royal Institution on Friday, April 30, 1897. His book, Conduction of Electricity through Gases, published in 1903 was described by Lord Rayleigh as a review of "Thomson's great days at the Cavendish Laboratory". A later edition, written in collaboration with his son, George, appeared in two volumes (1928 and 1933).

Thomson returned to America in 1904 to deliver six lectures on electricity and matter at Yale University. They contained some important suggestions as to the structure of the atom. He discovered a method for separating different kinds of atoms and molecules by the use of positive rays, an idea developed by Aston, Dempster and others towards the discovery of many isotopes. In addition to those just mentioned, he wrote the books, The Structure of Light (1907), The Corpuscular Theory of Matter (1907), Rays of Positive Electricity (1913), The Electron in Chemistry (1923) and his autobiography, Recollections and Reflections (1936), among many other publications.

Thomson, a recipient of the Order of Merit, was knighted in 1908. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1884 and was President during 1916-1920; he received the Royal and Hughes Medals in 1894 and 1902, and the Copley Medal in 1914. He was awarded the Hodgkins Medal (Smithsonian Institute, Washington) in 1902; the Franklin Medal and Scott Medal (Philadelphia), 1923; the Mascart Medal (Paris), 1927; the Dalton Medal (Manchester), 1931; and the Faraday Medal (Institute of Civil Engineers) in 1938. He was President of the British Association in 1909 (and of Section A in 1896 and 1931) and he held honorary doctorate degrees from the Universities of Oxford, Dublin, London, Victoria, Columbia, Cambridge, Durham, Birmingham, Göttingen, Leeds, Oslo, Sorbonne, Edinburgh, Reading, Princeton, Glasgow, Johns Hopkins, Aberdeen, Athens, Cracow and Philadelphia.

In 1890, he married Rose Elisabeth, daughter of Sir George E. Paget, K.C.B. They had one son, now Sir George Paget Thomson, Emeritus Professor of Physics at London University, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1937, and one daughter.

From Nobel Lectures, Physics 1901-1921, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1967. This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.

For more updated biographical information, see: Thomson, Joseph John, Recollections and Reflections. G. Bell and Sons: London, 1936.

J.J. Thomson died on August 30, 1940.

Key dates


Nominations close on 18 May 2018, 17:00 (BST).


IET Achievement Awards:
14 November 2018, 13:00 (GMT)

Submit an online nomination

2018 online submission form


Related links

Candidate criteria guidance (PDF)



IET Achievement Medals leaflet (PDF)

JJ Thomson Medal fact sheet (PDF)


See also

Previous winners