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British Industrial History

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William Hume-Rothery

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William Hume-Rothery OBE FRS (15 May 1899 – 27 September 1968) was an English metallurgist and materials scientist who studied the constitution of alloys.

1899 May 15th. Born in Worcester Park, Surrey the son of Joseph Hume-Rothery, a lawyer, and spent his youth in Cheltenham and was educated at Cheltenham College.

1917 He was made totally deaf by a virus infection. Entered Magdalen College, Oxford, and obtained a first class Honours degree in chemistry.

Attended the Royal School of Mines and was awarded a PhD.

1931 Married Elizabeth Fea and they had a daughter Jennifer in 1934.

During World War II, he supervised numerous government contracts for work on aluminium and magnesium alloys.

After the war he returned to Oxford "to carry on research in intermetallic compounds and problems on the borderland of metallography and chemistry" and remained there for the rest of his working life.

1938 Appointed lecturer in metallurgical chemistry. In his research, he concluded that the microstructure of an alloy depends on the sizes of the component atoms, as well as the valency electron concentration, and electrochemical differences.

He founded the Department of Metallurgy (which is now the Department of Materials) at the University of Oxford in the 1950s, and was a fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford.

He was a member of the Oxford Philatelic Society.

He retired in 1966 and died in 1968.

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