Niobium is a special metal that is becoming indispensable in everyday life and for many high technology applications.
For example niobium as an alloying element is used in a wide range of materials and components such as steel bridges, pipelines and car body components, nickel-based alloys for jet-engines and in more exotic alloys for body scanning magnets, biomedical prosthetics and electronic components.
To recognise and celebrate the importance of niobium and its contribution to civilisation, the world’s leading niobium producer Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (CBMM) has initiated and sponsored, since 1979, a special international prize, the Charles Hatchett Award. This accolade, named after the discoverer of niobium, Charles Hatchett FRS, is awarded annually in association with the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) for published research on the science and technology of niobium.
The Charles Hatchett Award Prize
The Charles Hatchett Award Prize consists of two parts, the Charles Hatchett Medal, and for the lead author, an expenses-paid trip to the CBMM mine in Araxá Minas Gerais, Brazil.
For Brazilian award winners, the prize takes the form of a visit of about 10 days to Europe, North America or Asia at the discretion of CBMM.
As part of the discussions for the establishment of the Charles Hatchett Award in 1978, Morris Pearl, Former Assistant Secretary for Professional Services for the Iron & Steel Institute, drafted out a design for the Charles Hatchett medal based on a portrait of Charles Hatchett retained in The Royal Society.
The medal is stamped, in the same way as a coin is minted, from a slice of pure niobium. The medal is engraved with the author’s name; each named author of the winning paper receives an engraved niobium medal. The medal is presented at the annual Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining Premier Awards Evening held in London in July.