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Fellows Directory

Sydney Leach

Sydney Leach

Dr Sydney Leach FRS


Elected: 1993


Sydney Leach made many contributions concerning transient molecules and molecular ions. Using novel spectroscopic sources, he discovered spectra of SH+, H2S+, OCS+, and other molecular ions, and made pioneering studies of dications such as SO22+, CH42+, CO22+ and C10H82+.

Major contributions were made to the analysis of many electronic spectra, such as those of CO2+, C6F6+ and sym–C6H3F3+, and on the following dynamical effects: spin-orbit calculations and the Renner–Teller effect in linear species; Jahn–Teller effects in aromatic ions; matrix-induced effects on the photophysics of benzenoid species; and fluorescence and dissociation kinetics, leading to an understanding of radiationless transitions. He applied this knowledge to astrophysical problems, including ionospheric data for Mars and laboratory tests of the role of polycyclic aromatic ions in the interstellar medium.

Sydney also studied the spectroscopy and photophysics of fullerenes. His later work on survival in space included the VUV spectroscopy and photophysics of amino acids and nucleic acids, and two 18-month duration experiments on plant seeds on the International Space Station.

Dr Sydney Leach FRS died on 24 December 2019.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, physical
  • Astronomy and physics
    • Astrophysics


Astronomical spectroscopy, Photophysics , Origin of life, Astrobiology


  • Humphry Davy and Claude Bernard Lectures

    On 'La photophysique moléculaire des fullerènes'.

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