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
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
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.

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits