C. PETER FLYNN

Obituary
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FLYNN--C. Peter, an experimental physicist at the University of Illinois and father of four passed away on October 27, 2011. Colin Peter Flynn was born in Stockton-on-Tees, a small market town in North Yorkshire, England on August 18, 1935. He was the son of Francis Johnson Flynn, a police constable in the village of Hovingham, and his wife, Edith Hannah, a local war-time nurse. At the age of 17, Peter was awarded a full scholarship to the University of Leeds where he received his bachelor's degree and, at the age of 24, his Ph.D. in Physics. In 1960, Peter moved to the United States to take a post-doctoral position with the Physics Department of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A distinguished experimentalist, Peter spent 51 years at the University, authoring more than 260 peer-reviewed articles, supervising 31 Ph.D. students and serving as the Director of the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory for nearly a decade. He made seminal contributions to several areas of condensed matter physics. In the 1960s, he utilized magnetic resonance imaging to pursue a fundamental study of the behavior and motion of defects and impurities in solids, an effort that culminated in his 1972 book, "Point Defects and Diffusion", still the definitive source in this field. In the 1990s, he spearheaded the University's acquisition, installation and modification of a low-energy electron microscope ("LEEM") to image real-time changes in atomically clean surfaces, atom-surface interactions, and thin (crystalline) films. He used this tool to research the behavior and motion of surface atoms in crystalline structures in order to further advance the study of surface energetics. As part of his research on the LEEM, he also pioneered the molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) method of growing metallic superlattices which allows researchers to construct ultra-pure structures down to the level of a single atomic layer. To this day, the LEEM at the University of Illinois is one of only a handful of LEEMs operational in the United States. He was a Fellow of both the American Physical Society and of the American Society of Metals, and held a Fellowship at Christ's College, Cambridge, U.K. from 1966 to 1967. In addition to his passion for physics, Peter was a voracious reader and engaged in a rich variety of activities including home building projects, hiking the American West and sports such as tennis, squash and golf. Peter's steady optimism and dedication to an energetic life filled with joyful and serious pursuits will continue to inspire all of those who knew him. Peter is survived by his wife, Janice; son Jim, his wife Kerianne, and their son Declan; son Derek, his wife Elizabeth, and their two children Alice and John; daughter Megan; son John, his fiancee Alix; and sister, Joan. We will all miss Peter's love and guidance.

Published in The New York Times on Nov. 13, 2011
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