The KTH Great Prize 2018 awarded to Kristina Edström

Uppsala University chemistry professor and world-leading battery researcher Kristina Edström has been awarded the KTH Great Prize for 2018. Through her research, the world has come closer to a solution to the problem of energy storage. As an educator, she is committed to inspiring and guiding young promising researchers.

“Energy is the fateful question for the future,” the university’s citation reads, “and through Kristina Edström’s research and knowledge the world has come much closer to a solution to energy storage. With equal parts energy and persistence, Kristina Edström, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, has built up a body of world-leading battery research. By inspiring and sharing her creative skills with young researchers she is also a guarantor of qualitative growth for the future.”

"It feels overwhelming,” says Edström. “It is so big to be chosen by another university than its home university. To me, it is extra meaningful because I am currently trying to join together battery-based battery research for Europe. It gives me an extra legitimacy for what I'm trying to do. I am also particularly grateful for the fact that my work with younger researchers has been highlighted. It is so important to encourage a new generation of researchers to be inspired by research on batteries.”

Kristina Edström

Edström leads the Nordic region's largest battery research group, Ångström Advanced Battery Center. Development of next generation energy storage technology and battery technology for automotive applications are examples of areas where her research team is particularly prominent. The research aims at developing new battery chemistries that can enable more powerful, safer and less expensive batteries than today, without wasting raw materials.

"We study lithium batteries, solid state batteries, sodium batteries and multivalent batteries. We make negative and positive electrode materials, we make new electrolytes and we assemble them into battery cells. In particular, we want to understand what happens to unwanted and unwanted reactions inside a battery so that, for example, the automotive industry can have batteries that are fast-loading, predictable in terms of performance, and long-lasting. To this end, we develop new analytical methods in the MAX IV laboratory and the European Spallation Source (ESS) in Lund, Edström says.

Today she devotes herself also to guiding young and promising researchers at the Ångström Laboratory. It is important for her young researchers to feel that they dare to be part of a large research group and at the same time develop as independent researchers.

"That's why it's up to me to handle both being internationally visible and at the same time making sure I do not let my young colleagues be in my shadow. It means actively considering who is looking for external funds, who is visible at what conferences, and dare to recruit young researchers who are far more intelligent than myself, Edström says.

Even within the framework of the graduate school Swedness, where she is a director, Edström is working with young researchers. Swedness is a research school in the field of neutron scattering, which is funded by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research. The purpose is to train a group of young researchers in different neutron scattering methods to become those who will actively benefit from the benefits of ESS built in Lund.

"They will be done roughly when ESS launches its first neutrons. It is a way to broaden the small neutron scattering group in Sweden with several active researchers. Six of the largest Swedish universities are involved and the work is led by me and Martin Månsson at KTH, who is director of studies,” she says. 20 PhD students are involved.

KTH President Sigbritt Karlsson thinks it's great to award KTH's Great Prize to Edström.

“Her basic research is socially useful now in a world looking for sustainable solutions in the energy field. Her research has great bearing and significance for Sweden and internationally of course. As a science woman, she is also a strong model for many, she says.

About the KTH Great Prize

KTH’s Great Prize is taken from the proceeds of a donation made in 1944 and which now stands at one million two hundred thousand Swedish kronor. According to the donor, who wished to be and has remained anonymous, the prize shall be awarded to:

"A person who, through epoch-making discoveries and the creation of new values and by ingenious applications of findings gained on the practical aspects of life, promotes Sweden's continued material progress, or a person who by means of scientific research has discovered particularly valuable principles or methods which are useful for applications, which promote the above purpose, or a person who through artistic activities "exerts a powerful influence particularly on the spiritual life of her own people."

The recipient must also be a Swedish citizen. The prize has been awarded since 1945, except for the years 1951, 1953, 1957, 1963, 1965 and 1968.

As a recipient of KTH's great award, Kristina Edström is now in the same company as among others (profession and prize-years in brackets) Hannes Alfvén (physics researcher and Nobel Prize laureate), 1947, Assar Gabrielsson (founder of Volvo, 1955), Elise Ottesen- Jensen (founder of RFSU, 1971), Lennart Nilsson (medical photographer, 1972), Alva Myrdal (politician and diplomat, 1975), Håkan Lans (inventor, 1996), Robin Miriam Carlsson (recording artist, 2013), Max Tegmark physicist and cosmologist, 2015), Jonas Gardell (author, dramatist, comic and artist, 2017).

Håkan Soold

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Last changed: Oct 12, 2018