Skip to content


Fellows Directory

Brian Thrush

Brian Thrush

Professor Brian Thrush FRS


Elected: 1976


Brian Thrush studied the atom and free radical reactions in the gas phase of spectroscopic methods. He made the first comprehensive examination of the absorption spectra of free radicals in homogeneous explosions using flash photolysis. He discovered the absorption spectra of several free radicals (for example, the azide, cyclopentadienyl and tropyl radicals), and he determined the ionisation potential of the tropyl radical.

He developed a new method of studying hydrogen atom reactions, and determined the rate constants of a series of nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen atom reactions important in combustion and in the upper atmosphere. His interest in chemiluminescence yielded a series of important papers on the formation of electronically excited molecules in transfer or recombination reactions and also potential lasers.

Brian also developed a photochemical method for studying unimolecular reactions of molecules with known energies. He also studied the rotational spectra of free radicals (NH2, PH2, PH) using the Zeeman effect to bring them into resonance with a far infrared laser.

Professor Brian Thrush FRS died on 14 September 2023.

Professional positions

Emeritus Professor of Physcial Chemistry, University of Cambridge
Life Fellow, Emmanuel College

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, physical
  • Earth and environmental sciences
    • Atmospheric chemistry


atmospheric, chemistry, molecular, spectroscopy

Was this page useful?
Thank you for your feedback
Thank you for your feedback. Please help us improve this page by taking our short survey.