Professor Michael Baker, 1930-2017

17 August 2017

It is with great sadness that the Physics Department announces the death of Professor Michael Baker on the 10th of August at the age of 86.

Michael came up to Oxford 1948 as a pupil of Brebis Bleaney at St John’s College, and was awarded a BA in physics in 1951. He then became Bleaney’s graduate student at St John’s and later at St Anthony as a Senior Scholar, and gained a DPhil in 1954. Following a period at Harvard as Fulbright Scholar and Research Fellow, in 1957 he was appointed a University lecturer in the Physics Department and an Official Fellow and Tutor at Merton College. Michael was Head of Condensed Matter Physics from 1993 to 1997 and was awarded the title of Professor in 1996. He retired in 1998 with the title of Emeritus Professor and Emeritus Fellow of Merton College. Michael’s principal field of research was magnetic resonance, and his techniques of choice were electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR), electron nuclear double resonance (ENDOR – a technique which he pioneered in Britain) and, later, muon spin relaxation spectroscopy. Michael used these methods to investigate the nature of defects in a variety of materials, including in quartz, III-V semiconductors, oxides, fluorides, ferroelectrics and metalorganic crystals. This body of work, collected in over 150 publications, let to his election to a Fellowship of the International Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (ESR) Society in 2011. Michael was particularly proud of his work on diamond, which was definitive in elucidating structures of intrinsic and impurity-related defects. This research was essential for the exploitation of synthetic diamond in optical and electronic applications, including very recent breakthroughs in quantum information processing. Until a few weeks ago, Michael was a regular presence in the Department (he kept publishing papers until the late 2000’s), and was well known and loved by generations of academics and students in the Clarendon laboratory.

Michael's funeral will be held at Merton College Chapel at 2pm on Monday 11th September.