Gordon Williams has been based in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London since 1960, after first serving as an apprentice at the Royal Aircraft Establishment Farnborough. He completed his PhD with Hugh Ford on the then new topic of mechanical properties of polymers. This proved an inspired choice since polymer science and engineering grew very rapidly, with major companies developing new materials.
While his interests included all mechanical properties, over time Gordon’s emphasis moved towards fracture and particularly fracture mechanics, a rapidly developing field. He published the book Fracture Mechanics of Polymers in 1982. His interest then broadened to include the fracture of composites and adhesives and to providing standard test methods.
Gordon became involved in cutting theory some 15 years ago as a method for measuring the toughness of soft materials, including polymers such as polyethylene but also to foods such as cheese. Biological materials such as gels have been a natural extension of this activity and are a considerable challenge.
Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College London Visiting Professor, University of Sydney