Professor Sir Peter Bernhard Hirsch FRS is a leading figure in British materials science who has made fundamental contributions to the application of transmission electron microscopy to metals.
He attended the Sloane School, Chelsea and St Catharine's College, Cambridge. In 1946 joined the Crystallography Department of the Cavendish to work for a PhD on work hardening in metals under Lawrence Bragg. He subsequently carried out important work, which is still cited, on the structure of coal.
In the mid-1950s he pioneered the application of transmission electron microscopy to metals, and developed in detail the theory needed to interpret such images. In 1965, with Howie, Whelan, Pashley and Nicholson, he published the seminal text Electron microscopy of thin crystals.
The following year he moved to Oxford to take up the Isaac Wolfson Chair in Metallurgy, succeeding William Hume-Rothery. He held this post until his retirement in 1992, building up the Department of Metallurgy into a world-renowned centre.
Among many other honours, he was awarded the 1983 Wolf Foundation Prize in physics. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1963, and knighted in 1975. He is a fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford.