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Issue 474, 3 December 2001

Professor Tony Clifford

Tony Clifford attended Balliol College, Oxford, from where he obtained his BA in 1961 and during which time he also contributed two articles to the journal Nature. He obtained his DPhil from Oxford in 1964 researching into the oxidation of organic compounds by inorganic salts. His research switched to infra-red spectroscopy during a postdoctoral period at the University of Minnesota, and in 1966 he was appointed by Professor Peter Gray as a lecturer in Physical Chemistry at Leeds to develop i.r. spectroscopy on surfaces. He was promoted to senior lecturer in 1978, to Reader in 1991 and to Professor of Chemical Technology in 1997. He has supervised thirty-two PhD students and numerous undergraduate project students.

Tony's breadth of interest and understanding of physical chemistry has allowed him to build new collaborations throughout his career and this was quickly evidenced in Leeds when he began, in 1971, to measure the physical properties of gases of relevance to the established interests in combustion here. He was the first person to obtain absolute and accurate measurements of thermal conductivities using the 'transient hot-wire' technique and this method was subsequently used in collaboration with the National Engineering Laboratory in East Kilbride to make measurements on over 3000 molecules. Tony made advances on theoretical methods for calculating physical properties of gases alongside this work. Prompted by Peter Gray, Tony's attention turned to methods for measuring diffusion coefficients for molecules in liquids and then, perhaps most significantly, for reactive species in the gas-phase. During this work, Tony discovered a totally unknown effect the chromatographic retention of H-atoms on quartz surfaces.

A different collaboration began in 1984, with Professor Keith Bartle, to exploit the properties of supercritical fluids in analytical chemistry. Tony and Keith have made a 'perfect team' combination of experimental and theoretical flair with an eye for opportunity, leading to great success in terms of funding and research output. This work in particular formed the basis of the award of a personal chair. It also led to the development of a 'spin-off' company EXPRESS set-up through ULIS, of which Tony is the Technical Director. This company exploits supercritical fluids to extract high-value products and in other applications. In recent years, with Dr Chris Rayner, Tony has demonstrated that supercritical fluids are an exciting new medium for controlled preparative organic chemistry. Tony also held a Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship in the academic year 1990-91 and is an active member of the Society of Chemical Industry.

In addition to his research and teaching activities, Tony is widely known through the University for his roles associated with Bodington Hall: he was Warden of Seton House from 1974-81 and Chairman of Wardens from 1978-80. He has recently served on the University Readerships Committee. Tony has always been a delightful and generous colleague and is held in the highest regard as both an experimentalist and theoretician.

Tony's involvement with the Department of Chemistry continues through his appointment as Research Professor following his (early) retirement this year. We wish him and Anna well in the coming years of altered, but probably not diminished, activity.


 
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