University of Sheffield opens Kroto Schools’ Lab in memory of Nobel Prize winning alumnus Sir Harry Kroto

  • Innovative laboratory at the University of Sheffield will help shape and support the young scientists of tomorrow
  • Nobel Prize winner, Sir Harry Kroto dedicated his life to science and making it accessible and exciting for all

Sir Harry Kroto

The University of Sheffield opened a new laboratory this week (Monday 30 October 2017) dedicated to engaging and inspiring the scientists of tomorrow, in loving memory of Sir Harry Kroto - a Sheffield graduate and Nobel Prize winner.

The opening of the laboratory, in the University’s Dainton Building, was made possible thanks to the generous donations of alumni who, like Sir Harry, are committed to ensuring young people have access to science and engineering. The revitalised teaching space will welcome hundreds of local school children and young people each year to learn about science in an exciting and engaging environment.

Sir Harry, a Sheffield alumnus (BSc Chemistry 1961, PhD Chemistry 1964, Honorary DSc 1995) won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1996 in recognition of his part in the discovery of buckminsterfullerene - carbon atoms in the form of a ball - also known as ‘buckyballs’.

In 2006, Sir Harry unveiled the world’s first ‘giant buckyball’ sculpture outside the Kroto Research Institute at the University of Sheffield.

Student in labAlongside his innovative research, Sir Harry was also hugely passionate about teaching and encouraging young people to be engaged with science. He returned to the University each year to run buckyball workshops that teach young people about his research.

In 2016, Sir Harry’s wife, Lady Margaret Kroto a Sheffield alumna herself (BA Economics 1962), made a generous donation to launch the Kroto Family Education Foundation.

The foundation builds on Sir Harry’s incredible legacy by continuing to give the public, particularly young people, the chance to learn more about buckyballs in the Kroto School Laboratory.

The foundation also supports science education, particularly in workshops, that explores the structure of the Nobel Prize winning molecule, demonstrating the thrill and satisfaction of science and sparking an ongoing interest.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield said: “Harry was a tremendous friend to the University of Sheffield. He was an exceptional force of good in the world of science both at the cutting edge of atomic structure and nanotechnology, as well as introducing children to the joy science can bring.

“Sheffield is immensely proud of what he has achieved in his life and we are proud to continue his legacy of sharing science to people of all ages.”

Lady Margaret Kroto who was unable to attend the opening said: “The most important thing is that this wonderful facility will help to achieve Harry’s vision of giving young people the opportunity to explore science in an exciting and hands on way. Harry was a communicator and an inspiration to young people and I cannot think of a more fitting tribute. He would have felt deeply honoured.”

In addition to this week’s opening the annual Kroto Research Inspiration showcase also took place this week (Tuesday 31 October), which celebrated the creative communication of research by Sheffield’s own innovative researcher community.

Other guests at the opening included, research theme leaders from the Kroto Research institute and staff from across the University.

Learn more about the Kroto Research Institute

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Mary Hickey
Media and Communications Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 2221034