Peter Duncumb carried out pioneering work on the development of the scanning electron probe X-ray microanalyser, now a common tool for surface studies in most materials laboratories. His early work led to the first commercial instrument for imaging the distribution of selected chemical elements on a microscale, providing essential information for failure analysis and the development of new materials.
Joining the Central Laboratories of Tube Investments in 1959, Peter built a second instrument, known as EMMA, combining X-ray microanalysis with transmission electron microscopy. This made possible even finer analysis of thin film and particulate samples, and led again to commercial production. Later, he took on broader management responsibilities, retiring in 1987 after 8 years as Laboratory Director.
Since 1988, Peter has been occupied by consulting with industry on the interpretation of X-ray spectra, and on the use of phased arrays in ultrasonic testing. More generally, he also served a double spell as Chairman of the Royal Society’s Paul Instrument Fund. He is an Honorary Member of both the US and European microbeam analysis societies.
Ultrasonic testing of materials,