ONE of the world’s leading electrochemists, whose discoveries and techniques continue to be used today, has died aged 85.

Martin Fleischmann, who moved to Tisbury with his wife following his retirement as Professor of Electrochemistry at Southampton University, was born in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Czechoslovakia, on March 29, 1927.

He came to England as a refugee in 1938 after his family managed to escape the Nazi occupation of western Czechoslovakia.

Excelling at all the sciences as an A-level student in Worthing, Sussex, he went on to be awarded a scholarship to read Chemistry at Imperial College, London, where he remained to study for his doctorate.

He then taught at King’s College, Durham University (now the University of Newcastle), becoming a Reader in Chemistry, until in 1967 he was awarded the Faraday Chair of Chemistry at the University of Southampton.
He remained at the university until his retirement in 1983, building up the department and earning it an international reputation.

A prolific scientist, he worked with groups around the world and was awarded an array of prizes and medals for his research. From 1970 to 1972 he was the president of the International Society of Electrochemists and in 1974 he played an instrumental role in the discovery of the Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering effect (SERS).

He developed the ultramicroelectrode, potentiostat and the fluidized bed electrode system, techniques applicable across the field of electrochemistry.

In 1979 he was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry’s medal for electrochemistry and thermodynamics and in 1986 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society.

It was six years after his retirement from teaching in 1983 that, along with his former student, Stanley Pons, he announced their success in achieving nuclear fusion in a glass jar.

The experiment, known as cold fusion, shook the scientific world, with the chemists both appearing on the front cover of Time and Newsweek. However, as leading laboratories tried and failed to replicate the results, their claim became mired in controversy.

In the early nineties, Professor Fleischmann spent three years working for Toyota at a research facility in Nice, exploring the use of clean energy, later returning to independent research at his home in Tisbury.

Regarded as one of Britain’s most original electrochemists, Professor Fleischmann continued to work until five years ago when Parkinson’s disease prevented him from doing so. He died at his home on August 3.

He is survived by his wife, Sheila, two children, Nicholas and Vanessa, and eight grandchildren. Another daughter, Charlotte, died earlier this year. A funeral service is taking place onTuesday (August 21) at 12.30pm at St John’s Church, Tisbury.

Flowers are welcome and donations if desired are to be made payable to Marie Curie Cancer Care or Parkinson’s UK c/o Chris White Funeral Directors, 12 South Street, Wilton .