Obituary: Professor Andrew Keller

IT WAS in the area of polymer crystallisation that Andrew Keller and his colleagues and students at Bristol University laboured and in time created a revolution.

One of Keller's most important accomplishments stemmed from his 1957 hypothesis that polymer crystals were formed by long molecules more or less regularly folding back on themselves ("chain folding"). This significant departure from earlier conceptions accounted for the type of thin plate- like and well-shaped crystals observed using the then new technique of electron microscopy.

His early classic work was on polyethylene - often denoted "polythene" in Britain - and was later extended to other crystallisable polymers at Bristol, as well as by other workers in Europe, Japan and North America.

As is often the case with quantum leaps elsewhere in science, these developments did not take place unopposed. Keller was a master at devising insightful experiments to test his hypotheses, and in time workers in the field came to see the worth and potential of his ideas and to themselves employ and advance them. Meanwhile the chain folding concept turned out to be helpful in understanding the physical and chemical properties of crystallisable polymers; these are matters of practical as well as scientific importance. Thus Keller set aside the old mould, though allowing consideration of it, and advanced a new and more vital one to the enrichment of science and technology.

He was born Andras Keller in Budapest in 1925. His scientific education began in 1943 when he entered the University of Budapest, earning his BSc in chemistry cum laude in 1947. He began his PhD studies at the same university but his path to world recognition in the field of polymer science was interrupted by the rapidly deteriorating political situation in Hungary in 1948, which caused him to abruptly depart that country.

It was arranged for him to take a position with Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd (ICI) in Manchester, as technical officer in the Polymers Division. In this new atmosphere he became aware of problems in polymer science and technology that aroused his curiosity and led him to examine aspects of polymer crystallisation: it was in this area that he and his colleagues and students laboured and in time created a revolution.

He became a naturalised citizen of the UK in 1954. When he left Hungary, he had finished his PhD thesis, but had not taken the final oral examination required for a diploma. This was rectified by his next move. In 1955 he removed to the Bristol University Physics Department as Research Assistant heading a team financed by the Ministry of Supply (later Ministry of Aviation). At Bristol he began to further develop his ideas on crystallisation, and obtained his PhD there in 1958. With the encouragement of the head of the Physics Department, Professor F.C. (later Sir Charles) Frank, Keller stayed on at Bristol, being appointed Lecturer in Physics in 1963, Reader in 1965, and Research Professor in Polymer Science in 1969. He retired from the latter position in 1991, but remained fully active in research until his death.

Keller was the recipient of many awards and honours. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1972 and a member of Academia Europaea in 1994. Other recognition included the High Polymer Physics Prize of the American Physical Society, the Swinburn Medal of the Plastics and Rubber Institute and the Max Born Medal of Physics (jointly awarded by the Institute of Physics and the German Physical Society).

Andrew Keller had another side. He was an able linguist, and enjoyed mountain walking, swimming, skiing, travel, opera and concerts.

A special conference on crystallisation of polymers will be held in his memory as part of the meeting of the American Chemical Society this August in New Orleans.

Andras (Andrew) Keller, polymer scientist: born Budapest 22 August 1925; Research Assistant, Department of Physics, Bristol University 1957-63, Lecturer 1963-65, Reader 1965-69, Research Professor in Polymer Science 1969-91 (Emeritus); FRS 1972; married 1951 Eva Bulhack (died 1997; one son, one daughter); died 7 February 1999.

Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot