Alan Walsh (physicist)

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Sir Alan Walsh

CSIRO ScienceImage 1107 Sir Alan Walsh 19161998 the father of atomic absorption spectroscopy.jpg
Born19 December 1916
Died3 August 1998 (aged 81)
Known forAtomic absorption spectroscopy

Sir Alan Walsh FAA FRS (19 December 1916 – 3 August 1998) was a British-Australian physicist, originator and developer of a method of chemical analysis called atomic absorption spectroscopy.[1][2][3]

Walsh was born in Hoddlesden, Darwen, Lancashire, educated at Darwen Grammar School and studied physics at Manchester University.[4]

After working for several years in British industry he moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1946 to join the newly formed Chemical Physics Section of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (then CSIR, now CSIRO), where he worked until his retirement in 1977.[3] There he developed the innovative technique of using atomic absorption spectra, rather than atomic emission and molecular absorption spectra, in spectrochemical analysis.[4]

Walsh was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1958 and was President of the Australian Institute of Physics from 1967 to 1968.[1] In 1969, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and a Foreign Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He was awarded the Royal Society's Royal Medal in 1976.[5] In 1977 he was Knighted for 'services to science'.[6] In 1981, Walsh became a founding member of the World Cultural Council.[7] He was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 1982; in the same year he was awarded the Boyle Medal by the Royal Society of Chemistry.[1]

The Australian Institute of Physics (AIP) Alan Walsh Medal, awarded for significant contributions in physics by an Australian industrial physicist, is named in his honour.[4]


  1. ^ a b c McCarthy, G.J. "Walsh, Alan - Biographical entry". Encyclopedia of Australian Science. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  2. ^ Hannaford, P. (2000). "Sir Alan Walsh. 19 December 1916 – 3 August 1998: Elected F.R.S. 1969". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 46: 535–564. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1999.0100. JSTOR 770415.
  3. ^ a b Peter Hannaford. "Alan Walsh 1916-1998". Biographical memoirs. Australian Academy of Science. originally published in Historical Records of Australian Science, vol.13, no.2, 2000. Also published in Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society of London, 2000.
  4. ^ a b c "16th National Congress 2005" (PDF). Australian Institute of Physics. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  5. ^ "Royal Medal of the Royal Society". Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  6. ^ "Knight Bachelor". It's an Honour. 11 June 1977. Services to science
  7. ^ "About Us". World Cultural Council. Retrieved 8 November 2016.

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