Following the expansion of 1957, the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory (ICL) went on to comprise of five floors of laboratories, workshops, offices and seminar rooms as well as occupying for a time the whole of 9 Parks Road (the Chemical Crystallography Laboratory) and a substantial portion of the New Chemistry Laboratory (the Old Pharmacology building) in South Parks Road. It is the biggest school of inorganic chemistry in the UK and one of the biggest in the world.
The laboratory has had a remarkable series of professors associated with it. The early professors of chemistry included William Odling (1855 to 1912), who had some claims to the formulation of the Periodic Table, and Frederick Soddy (1919 to 1936) who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery with Rutherford of the radiochemical series. He was followed by another Nobel Prize winner for chemical kinetics, Cyril Norman Hinshelwood (1937 to 1964), who was professor of physical and inorganic chemistry.
The first statutory professor of Inorganic Chemistry was J S Anderson (1963 to 1975), who was succeeded by John B Goodenough (1975 to 1988), now a Nobel Laureate for his role in the development of the lithium-ion battery. Malcolm Green, renowned for his imaginative work in organometallic chemistry, succeeded Goodenough in 1988, followed by Professor Peter Edwards in 2003. The current Head of Inorganic Chemistry is Professor Simon Clarke.
Other notable chemists who worked in the laboratory or were closely associated with it were Nevil Sidgwick, the author of a monumental work on inorganic chemistry, Jack Linnett (later vice-chancellor of Cambridge), William Hume-Rothery, who founded the Department of Metallurgy (which is now the Department of Materials), and Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964 for her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances. Hodgkin was, and remains to date, the only British woman ever to have been awarded a Nobel Prize in the sciences. One of her students was Margaret Thatcher (nee Roberts), who went on to serve as the first woman Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990.
Blue plaques on the front of the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory mark some of the greatest achievements of twentieth century chemistry: the identification of the cathode material that enabled the development of the lithium-ion battery, the creation of the Glucose Sensor, and the work of Dorothy Hodgkin.