In Memoriam: Frank S. Stone (1925–2018)

Frank Stone’s death on March 5th deprived the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty of an elder states­man, famed for stud­ies of catal­y­sis and sol­id-state chem­istry. Born in 1925 in Bris­tol, Eng­land, and edu­cat­ed at Queen Elizabeth’s Hos­pi­tal School, Bris­tol, he excelled in Clas­sics and Sci­ences, but pre­ferred the lat­ter, study­ing Chem­istry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Bris­tol; grad­u­at­ing with first class hon­ours in 1945.

He under­took post­grad­u­ate research with Pro­fes­sor W. E. Gar­ner, link­ing the cat­alyt­ic activ­i­ties of bina­ry inor­gan­ic oxides with their semi-con­duct­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics. There­after, he pro­ceed­ed to post-doc­tor­al stud­ies in pho­to­chem­istry at Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty, USA, with the dis­tin­guished phys­i­cal chemist, Hugh S. Tay­lor. Return­ing to Bris­tol, he inves­ti­gat­ed het­ero­ge­neous cat­alyt­ic reac­tions through adsorp­tion calorime­try. The impor­tance of the “elec­tron­ic fac­tor” to het­ero­ge­neous catal­y­sis led Stone to dop­ing bina­ry oxides with the alter-valent ions, and to mea­sur­ing the mag­net­ic prop­er­ties of ternary oxides. Endur­ing asso­ci­a­tions were estab­lished with Ital­ian and Span­ish research groups; notably with Alessan­dro Cimi­no, a con­tem­po­rary at Prince­ton, at the Uni­ver­si­ties of Peru­gia and Rome, assess­ing spe­cif­ic cat­alyt­ic activ­i­ties of iso­lat­ed sur­face ion­ic sites; and with co-work­ers of J. F. Gar­cia de la Ban­da (CSIC, Madrid), who worked pre­vi­ous­ly with Gar­ner, to study the crack­ing of hydro­car­bons on tran­si­tion met­al-doped zeo­lites. Between 1955–65, Frank Stone pio­neered research on het­ero­ge­neous pho­to­catal­y­sis on fine­ly-divid­ed oxides, sol­id-state reac­tions for spinel for­ma­tion, and adsorp­tion on sup­port­ed metal­lic par­ti­cles.

He became Euro­pean Edi­tor of the Jour­nal of Catal­y­sis in 1970, a task at which he excelled for 26 years, in which his lit­er­ary acu­men and facil­i­ty with for­eign lan­guages earned him huge respect, espe­cial­ly from non-Eng­lish-speak­ing authors, who were grate­ful to him for his tact­ful sug­ges­tions for improv­ing man­u­scripts.

In 1972 Frank Stone became Pro­fes­sor of Phys­i­cal Chem­istry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Bath, where, with Adri­ano Zecchi­na and Edoar­do Gar­rone of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Turin, he applied UV-Vis­i­ble Dif­fuse Reflectance- and Infra-Red Spec­tro­scopies to oxide sur­faces of alka­line-earth ele­ments, iden­ti­fy­ing 3-, 4-, and 5-fold coor­di­nat­ed adsorp­tion sites, and reveal­ing a pink oligomer­ic form of adsorbed car­bon monox­ide. In lat­er years he held the posi­tion of Pro-Vice-Chan­cel­lor. Frank Stone was an out­stand­ing lec­tur­er. He authored more than 120 sci­en­tif­ic papers; many have with­stood the “wear of time”. He was a found­ing- com­mit­tee mem­ber of the tri­en­ni­al Ride­al Con­fer­ence Series, and was a reg­u­lar attendee until 2011/12.

He met his future wife, Joan, also a stu­dent, in wartime Bris­tol. They became vol­un­teer fire-watch­ers, study­ing by day and ful­fill­ing their night-time duties from the rooftops of the Uni­ver­si­ty build­ings. A fam­i­ly man, who enjoyed gar­den­ing, cycling, and trav­el. He took many camp­ing hol­i­days across Europe, a prac­tice con­tin­ued until late in life and held annu­al sum­mer camps for his research group in the Welsh Moun­tains or on Exmoor. He was a reg­u­lar­ly-attend­ing mem­ber of the Bris­tol Sci­en­tif­ic Soci­ety until short­ly before his death.
 
Roger I. Bick­ley
Brad­ford, West York­shire, UK