Portrait of Professor Jim Brown

Professor Jim Brown

Emeritus Professor of Experimental Physics


During World War II, Professor Brown worked with the Royal Canadian Navy on degaussing ships and on underwater sound, including the trials of the new hydrophone array on the captured U885. He was demobilized in Scotland as Electrical Lieutenant RCNVR in October, 1945 just in time to begin his doctorate in Low Temperature Physics at the Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford. From there he went to Lingnan University in Canton, China. Work on a new type of expansion liquefier to produce the first liquid helium in Asia was interrupted by the entry of the victorious Red Army, followed next year by the expulsion of Westerners. He then spent two years on liquid helium research at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, hearing from former Physics students in the armies on both sides in the Korean War. From there he returned to British Columbia, publishing work on liquid helium and superconducting thin films. Arriving in Kent with the first undergraduates in 1965 he established the Low Temperature Laboratory there. With colleagues, the first application of the quartz microbalance to measure thickness of the helium film was effected and measurement made of the Bernoulli effect in the flowing electronic fluid of a superconductor, as well as other work to elucidate the contact potential of metals under stress. An NERC investigation of acoustic imaging to explore its feasibility for use in coal mines was carried out on large scale in the air. He was involved in applying new thermal monitoring devices at the Sheerness Steelworks on the Isle of Sheppey which made steel by electrical heating. He was ahead of the field in energy generation as he advocated the use of hydrogen power cells in manufacturing and especially as propulsion units for cars as they would be environmentally neutral.

Professor Brown has been a member of the Applied Optics Group until his passing in early 2018, regularly attending AOG/SPS colloquia and events even after his retirement.

The obituary for Professor Brown can be viewed here.

Last updated 1st March 2021