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Fellows Directory

Anthony Ledwith

Anthony Ledwith

Professor Anthony Ledwith CBE FRS


Elected: 1995


Distinguished for innovation in the design and characterisation of thermal and photochemical initiation systems for chain growth polymerisations and for the synthesis of polymers with defined photochemical and photophysical characteristics. Pioneering use of carbocation salts as initiators led to the determination of absolute rate coefficients for propagation processes involving free cations and the effects of ion-pair equilibria. His work with planar organic cations resulted in the demonstration of many new thermal and photochemical electron transfer processes between organic molecules and the role of cation radical intermediates in polymerisation and cycloaddition reactions of electron rich olefins. He originated the use of stable cation radicals from tri-arylamines and bipyridylium salts as highly convenient and effective reagents for electron transfer. This mechanistic work led directly to the creation of novel and important photochemical initiation processes for curing in the printing, surface coatings and dental fillings industries. He has led in the application of knowledge of structure and mechanism to the design of specific polymeric materials for xerography, lithography and other special application and has made a significant contribution to understanding the general principles governing photo-processes in polymer systems. Since joining Pilkington in 1984, he has stimulated radical thinking in many areas of glass research, especially in glass/polymer composites and in coatings which create functionality in glasses and polymers. As a member of the SERC Council and member of the Materials Commission he has enriched, enlivened and raised the quality of materials research in the UK.

Biographical Memoir

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, materials, Chemistry, general
  • Engineering
    • Materials science (incl materials engineering), Engineering, general
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