Concord – Considered the “Fath…

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Concord – Considered the “Father of Accelerator Mass Spectrometry,” Dr. Kenneth Purser refined techniques and equipment that modernized the field of carbon-14 dating. Through his company, General Ionex Corporation of Newburyport, he produced approximately 20 AMS accelerators (Tandetrons) that were sold worldwide which expanded the field of carbon dating, and provided research opportunities to a new generation of scientists. These tools transformed research in Geology, Oceanography, Climatology, Hydrology, Medicine, Materials Science and multiple other fields.
Born in 1929 in Auckland, New Zealand to Molly and Harry Purser, Ken received his BSc in 1953 and MSc in 1955 from the University of Otago. He completed his PhD studies in Nuclear Physics at the Australian National University in 1961.
He married his first wife, Noeline, in 1954 and started a family. At the invitation of the Kennedy Administration, the Purser family immigrated to the United States as part of the effort to bring in more scientists to counter Soviet scientific advancements. He was hired by Robert Van de Graaff to work at High Voltage Engineering in Burlington, MA. Four years later, he joined the faculty at the University of Rochester where he made fundamental contributions to the field of carbon-14 dating using ultra-sensitive mass spectrometry. He then formed General Ionex Corporation which commercialized the newly designed Tandetron accelerator. Subsequently, he used his expertise in the semiconductor field to improve the implantation of silicon wafers. Dr. Purser was an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto, had approximately 120 technical publications, received more than 20 patents and was awarded the JAERI Award for Detection of Long Lived Radioactive Atoms.
In 1990, he married his second wife, Jean. Along with his work, Ken had passions for sailing, playing the organ, flying his private plane, and international travel. He is survived by his wife, Jean; daughter Susan Purser; son Richard and his wife Diana Purser; son Robert and his wife Jane Purser; Jean’s daughter Margaret Bergstrom and husband Gary; Jean’s daughter Jennifer Hatfield; 12 grandchildren; and many great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his former wife, Noeline.
A memorial service for Kenneth Purser will be held on Saturday, October 27th, 10 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 81 Elm St., Concord, All are welcome. Contributions to the CLAS First Generation Scholarship at Arizona State University ( in memory of Ken would be appreciated.

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