Kenneth Packer was well known for his pioneering development of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and its application to the solution of a wide range of chemical, physical and biological problems. Early in his career, he observed the first AB4X spin system and made the first magnetic resonance observation of niobium-93 in solution, thus demonstrating the potential of multinuclear NMR in chemical sciences. Hitherto, chemically related NMR had been restricted to the observation of protons, fluorine and phosphorus. His analysis of line shapes of spin-1/2 nuclei coupled to central quadrupolar nuclei enabled quantitative measurements of the spin–lattice relaxations of the central nuclei in multinuclear molecules and ions to be made — a technique subsequently shown to have wide application. He applied the method to the elucidation of the structure and dynamics of solutions of electrolytes. Thus, he demonstrated the complex relationship between microscopic dynamics and bulk transport properties in these cases. He was the first in the United Kingdom to apply pulsed magnetic field-gradient spin echo techniques to the investigation of diffusion and flow in liquids.
Professor Kenneth Packer FRS died on 18 September 2021.