In Memory of James Bentley, MAS Fellow and Electron Microscopy Legend

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of James (Jim) Bentley, dear friend and colleague.

Jim received a B.Sc. in Physics (1970) from Salford University and a M.Sc. in Physics of Solids (1971) from Birmingham University, followed by a Ph.D. in Physical Metallurgy and Science of Materials (1974), also from Birmingham University, for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of neutron-irradiated molybdenum. He was a research staff member in the Metals and Ceramics (later Materials Science and Technology) Division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) from 1974 to 2010, and also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Knoxville and Vanderbilt University.

Jim received the 1975 Thomas Turner Medal from Birmingham University, two ORNL Technical Achievement Awards, five MSA poster awards and the MAS Duncumb Award in 2012. Jim served as MSA Awards Committee Chair and as MSA Program Chair for the hugely successful fiftieth-anniversary meeting in Boston in 1992. He became an (inaugural) MSA Fellow in 2009 and MAS Fellow “For outstanding leadership and sustained contributions to analytical electron microscopy studies of materials” in 2018. Jim has served as a MAS Tour Speaker (2000-2001) and MAS Director (2009-2011). He was well known for mentoring numerous students and postdocs.

His career mostly focused on using analytical transmission electron microscopy (AEM) in materials science. He initially studied TEM of neutron irradiated V and Mo alloys at ORNL, but later became involved in AEM, improving techniques such as X-ray energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) and electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS). He also developed log-polynomial EELS background fitting for quantitative analysis of transition metal borides.

Jim greatly expanded the collaborative research efforts of ORNL’s Shared Research Equipment Program in the 1980s. He established an effort on atom probe field ion microscopy, leading to the development of atom probe tomography. In the 1990s, Jim established energy-filtered TEM (EFTEM) and simultaneous EDS and EELS spectrum imaging as core capabilities of the SHaRE facility. He successfully applied these techniques to various materials, including thin-film magnetic recording media and nanoclusters in nanostructured ferritic alloys. Jim also made significant contributions with EFTEM plasmon imaging and valence-state mapping, site occupancies in intermetallic alloys by ALCHEMI with corrections for ionization delocalization, reflection-mode imaging and analysis (REM and REELS), including high-temperature in-situ annealing of ceramics, and HAADF STEM imaging of metallic nanoparticles.

We extend our deepest condolences to his family and colleagues. He will be missed.

His obituary is available here.

Dr. James (Jim) Bentley
November 25, 1948  –  July 6, 2023