Materials for Industry - Derek Birchall Award Symposium at Keele University

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Posted on 18 March 2010 A symposium to celebrate the contribution of the late Professor Derek Birchall to industrial materials research and the inaugural award of a new Royal Society of Chemistry award will take place at Keele University on 31 March 2010.

The symposium will feature the RSC Materials for Industry - Derek Birchall Award Winner, Professor Patrick McGrail, of the University of Sheffield, who will deliver a lecture on ‘Polymer Blends for High Performance Composites’.

Derek Birchall, FRS, OBE, was Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at Keele from 1992 until his untimely death in 1995. The Birchall Centre at Keele started its life in 1992 as the Unit for Inorganic Chemistry and Materials Science. It was the idea of Professor Birchall who, along with Dr Chris Exley and Professor K Kendall, FRS, came to Keele following the re-organisation of what was then, the United Kingdom’s largest chemical company, Imperial Chemical Industries, ICI.

The philosophy behind the Birchall Centre was to provide an academic environment in which fundamental and applied sciences across a breadth of fields would both prosper and inform one another. The Centre was re-named in his honour and continues to this day to foster his philosophy of fundamental science informing every day life.

Professor McGrail is distinguished for his work on the development of thermoplastic toughened epoxy resins as matrix materials for high strength, light weight carbon fibre composites; materials which have revolutionised the aerospace industry over the past decade.

Also speaking at the symposium are a number of distinguished invited scientists, including Professor Kevin Kendall FRS, now at the University of Birmingham, ‘Layered Structures: A Simple Way of Making Better Materials’; Dr Bill Clegg, University of Cambridge, ‘Dielectric Loss, Grain Boundaries and New Super-Q Structures’ and Professor Neil Alford FREng, Imperial College London, ‘New Materials for Electric Vehicles’. Professor Bob Williams FRS (Oxford) will be giving a short talk and will also be chairing the symposium. Sir Brian Fender will close the meeting.

For more information contact Dr Chrystelle Egger,, or Dr Chris Exley,

Chris Stone,
Press Office,
Keele University.
Tel.: 01782 733375