Peter Mansfield

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Peter Mansfield

Sir Peter Mansfield (born October 9, 1933 in London - † February 8, 2017 in Nottingham ) was a British physicist .

He was a professor of physics at the University of Nottingham . In 2003 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine . He received this together with Paul Christian Lauterbur for their discoveries in connection with magnetic resonance tomography .


Early years and education

Peter Mansfield was born in Lambeth , London in 1933, the son of gas installer Sidney George Mansfield and his wife Rose Lillian. He was the youngest of three brothers, his older siblings Conrad William and Sidney Albert, and grew up in Camberwell . World War II broke out when he was six and he was evacuated from London three times as a child during the war years. He spent a few weeks in Sevenoaks and then twice in Torquay . After the war he finished his education in 1948 at the Secondary School in Peckham . He then worked for a painter for three years. He then discovered his interest in missiles and got a job with the Ministry of Supply at the Rocket Propulsion Department in Westcott , Buckinghamshire . After 18 months he was drafted into the army and stayed there for two years; after that he returned to Westcott.

1956 Peter Mansfield began his studies of physics at Queen Mary College of the University of London . Here was a project in 1959 to provide a portable nuclear magnetic resonance - spectrometer (NMR) based on transistor technologies to develop. He solved this problem and later got a job with Jack Powles in the field of magnetic resonance research. The main interest of the working group was the research of molecular movements in various materials, primarily in liquids . His task was to construct a spectrometer to study solid polymers . In connection with this work he discovered the solid echoes (solid state resonances) and published a publication about this resonance phenomenon in a single gypsum crystal and did his doctorate on the topic.

Research work in the USA

After his doctorate in physics, which he completed in 1962, he went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for two years at an invitation from Charlie Slichter . Before he left, he married Jean Margaret Kibble and she accompanied him to Illinois. His research in Illinois consisted of NMR spectroscopy on doped metals , especially on alloys of copper and zinc . Here he wanted to measure the resonance behavior of the copper electrons on zinc atoms and developed a special spectrometer for this.

His postdoctoral period in Illinois lasted two years and could not confirm the predictions of his colleagues that the electrons on zinc behave differently and produced a specific resonance. However, he was unable to continue his work on solid-state resonances in Charlie Slichter's laboratory. However, a former colleague from London, Doug Cutler , also worked on this topic in Urbana and used a structure similar to that which Mansfield had constructed for his research. Mansfield persuaded him that he could use his laboratory for some experiments. He researched the resonance of sodium fluoride (NaF) and published a largely theoretical publication on it.


After postdoctoral research, Peter Mansfield returned to London in 1964. Mansfield got a position as a lecturer and research assistant at the University of Nottingham with Raymond Andrew . Here he was given his own laboratory to design and test his multiple pulse NMR, a spectrometer for recording nuclear magnetic resonance with several coordinated pulses. In his first year he got a research student, Don Ware, who had done his Master of Science in NMR in Canada and with whom he was able to carry out his first experiments in multiple pulse NMR. In 1965, Mansfield's first teacher, Jack Powles, attended a colloquium at the University of Nottingham, and Mansfield demonstrated his machine to him. He reported a similar setup in the laboratory of John S. Waugh at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and shortly afterwards publications by both working groups came in quick succession, culminating in a research dispute between the two institutions that lasted until the early 1970s.

In 1972, Alan Garroway, an American postdoc at Cornell University, joined the group. His doctoral thesis was on NMR studies in moving liquids. Mansfield had at the time equipped his NMR with an early computer with a working memory of four kilobytes , and one of Garroway's first tasks was to develop a method to have the results of the NMR generated into a spectrum using the computer. By the end of 1972, Mansfield was able to use a computer-controlled spectrometer to examine various materials. This enabled very fast analyzes, which for the first time enabled spectrograms to be carried out on rapidly chemically changing materials. The main focus was on calcium fluoride .

In 1972 Mansfield went on a trip to the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg to work with Karl Hermann Hausser (1919-2001). During this time he was in correspondence with his work group; his doctoral student Peter Grannell continued the experiments on NMR by trying to get a crystal lattice of calcium fluorite with the help of sections of camphor and to record the spectra until a clear single spectral line was recognizable. This was achieved and published in late 1973. The result was presented and discussed at a conference in Krakow . During this discussion, Mansfield first learned about the work of Paul Lauterbur , who was active in a similar field and who focused on studies in liquids. After studying its publications, he found that there were indeed parallels. Both approaches raised the question of what could be termed a mutable sample. Lauterbur had made the first attempts in this regard to depict the samples graphically. The studies provided a basis on which it could be possible to observe biological systems with the help of multiple pulse NMR.

Lauterbur presented his results at a conference in India in 1974, and some researchers from the Institute in Nottingham were also present, who later thought about implementing the imaging process when considering the resonance responses of magnetic impulses and reported them to Mansfield, who was at the Conference had not attended.


Mansfield has received numerous awards for his work. Among other things, he became a member of the Royal Society in 1987 , which had awarded him the Wellcome Prize in 1984 . In 1993 he was knighted. Together with Paul C. Lauterbur , he received the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine . In 2009 Mansfield was elected to the National Academy of Sciences .


Web links

Commons : Peter Mansfield  - collection of images, videos and audio files