Alan Ernest Owen PhD, Dsc,FRSE, FRSC, FIEE, FIP; born October 7 1928, died January 28 1999

ALAN Owen was a scholar of great distinction and a leading authority in the science and application of electronic materials and devices, acknowledged alike by academics and industrialists across the world. For over 30 years he served as editor for the Society of Glass Technology with responsibility for the journal Physics & Chemistry of Glasses.

Owen's initial field was chemistry, and his first post was as a research chemist with English China Clays Research Laboratories. Following a period at Sheffield University researching the electronic properties of glass, he left for Westinghouse, Baltimore, then returned to Sheffield. As his reputation flourished and his published output grew to over 140 papers, he became in great demand as a key speaker at leading scientific events on both sides of the Atlantic - indeed throughout the world. He was a creative and inspiring colleague wherever he ventured, including one year periods at CNRS, Toulouse, and at the Center for Solid-State Electronics Research, Arizona State University.

In 1967 he joined the Electrical Engineering department at Edinburgh University, successfully holding the posts of Senior Lecturer, Reader, Professor of Physical Electronics and, for three years, special Research Professor funded by BP International Ltd. For 30 years his Electronic Materials and Devices Group laboratory gained a reputation for high quality research on a host of fundamental studies, including: ionic conduction and dielectric relaxation in glasses, semiconductor crystal growth, electronic band structure and transport in amorphous semiconductors - the list is seemingly endless.

However, he always directed pure research towards the realisation of practical devices that might well, and did, lead to commercial developments. He therefore became an early proponent of technology transfer. Such motivation was inculcated naturally into members of his laboratory. He was supervisor to over 30 successful PhD students and an equal number of post-doctoral research fellows during his career.

Alan Owen was loved and respected by everyone for his quiet authority, his modesty and his scholarly approach to scientific research. He was also admired by his colleagues for his tenaciousness in seeking research funding and his record in attracting it. He would never take no for an answer - it was just that the funding body needed more time to consider the merits of his proposal! Money inevitably flowed in. He served as a fine Head of Department for five years from 1989, and upon his ''retirement'' was awarded an Emeritus Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust.

Retirement, though, did not diminish his research activity. Collaborative new work extended his long-standing fundamental study of the chalcogenides. Indeed, he had just secured a research contract with Napier and Dundee Universities from the UK Research Council at the time of his untimely death. He was awarded a higher doctorate from Edinburgh University in 1995, and two years earlier the Edinburgh International Science Festival honoured him for ''Conspicuous Contribution to Engineering Research in Scotland''. Professor Owen held Fellowships of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institution of Electrical Engineers and the Institute of Physics.

Such determination and achievement was not confined to his academic life; he loved playing squash, although his back occasionally resented the fact. This youthful zest and research activity continued up to his death. Indeed, it is the sudden passing of this vigorous spirit that has left his colleagues, friends and family with such deep loss - no more so than for his wife, Barbara, his four children and nine grandchildren. Alan Owen will be remembered affectionately as a fine gentleman, a gifted scholar, and a family man who lived life to the full.