John Chubb biographical notes:

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John Chubb

While physical science and technology have been the main focus of John Chubb's business life he has retained an involvement in art - both as a means of expression, and in contributing to the design of practical instrumentation.

Scientific work:

After a degree in Physics at Birmingham University (1954) and a PhD on behaviour of particles during electrostatic precipitation (1958) John Chubb did a graduate apprenticeship at English Electric at Stafford and then lead the development there of high power vacuum interrupters. He moved to join the Technology Division of the UKAEA Culham Laboratory in 1962. Up till 1968 he was responsible for investigation of high speed condensation pumping of hydrogen onto liquid helium cooled surfaces and with development of Monte Carlo computer modelling of free molecular gas flow in complex vacuum systems. In 1969 he joined the commercial contract research work at Culham and was concerned with three main areas of activity: 1) laboratory and shipboard studies of electrostatic ignition hazards during tank washing on large crude oil tankers, 2) development of a novel monitor for airborne asbestos fibres 3) large area computer typesetting.

After leaving Culham John Chubb spent 2 years as Manager Advanced Technical Planning with Linotype Paul in Cheltenham and then 2 1/2 years as Managing Director of a small industrial company, IDB, at the University College of North Wales.

John Chubb Instrumentation was set up in 1983 to devise, develop, manufacture and market high quality instruments for electrostatic measurements. The business also included development of methods for testing as well as test and consultancy work for customers and proposing prospective Standards documents. Consultancy work and publication of papers continued after the sale of JCI in 2009.

Particular contributions over the years have been:

- electrode configurations for magnetic movement and electrostatic containment of arc roots in high power vacuum interrupters. This showed a way for vacuum interrupters to break currents over 10kA without the contact electrodes suffering gross melting.

- studies of the variations of sticking coefficients and vapour pressure of hydrogen condensed on liquid helium cooled surfaces as functions of temperature from 2.1K to 3.8K.

- Monte Carlo modelling of free molecular gas flow in complex vacuum systems. This provided a more appropriate way to examine and design vacuum systems involving high performance pumping based on condensation and getter pumping.

- concept and demonstration of novel monitor for respirable size airborne fibres. At prototype level the approach demonstrated the ability to identify and size classify fine airborne fibres with reasonable immunity to other types of airborne particles.

- development of high performance (high sensitivity, low noise and stable zero) electrostatic 'field mill' fieldmeters which do not require earthing of the rotating chopper. This provided the basis for a compact handheld fieldmeter instrument and fieldmeters suitable for long-term continuous monitoring applications and for providing fast response times.

- development of a fieldmeter suitable for long term continuous operation in adverse weather conditions with operational health facilities to confirm maintenance of full performance.

- development of instrumentation for charge decay measurement to the suitability of materials for avoiding risks and problems from static electricity - and for its constructive use.

- demonstration of comparable charge decay performance between corona and tribo charging. This has shown that the corona charge decay instrumentation that has been developed provides information that matches practical experience.

- concept of 'capacitance loading' as an additional way to assess the electrostatic suitability of materials for avoiding the occurrence of high surface potentials from static charge retained on materials.

- development of a new method to measure the shielding performance of materials. While this did not lead to a commercial instrument it seemed to have promise for assessing the risk of incendiary spark discharges to materials.

- development of methods for formal calibration of instruments for a variety of electrostatic measurements.

(Papers and articles published over the years are referenced on the papers page of this website)

Over its 25 years of operation JCI developed a good range of high performance electrostatic measuring instruments and a number of relevant methods for monitoring electrostatic conditions and for assessing the suitability of materials. Instruments were sold all over the world and into a wide variety of industries.

The assets of the business of John Chubb Instrumentation Ltd were sold to Chilworth Technology, based in Southampton, in February 2009. On the basis of Chilworth Technology's presence in several major countries and their involvement with electrostatics, hazards and materials they are well placed to expand the business into new market areas and to enhance the range and capabilities of JCI instrumentation.

Since 2009 John Chubb has carried out a number of consultancy projects concerning electrostatics, published a number of papers and has developed his interest in art, via painting in oils, and in philosophy.

A general overview on static electricity and relevant methods for its measurement and assessment, based on John Chubb's personal experience, is provided in the book published by Nova Publishers in 2010: "An Introduction to Electrostatic Measurements".

John Chubb and painting

I started drawing and painting at quite a young age with the example and encouragement of my father. I developed some skills with painting at school and took art at A level, alongside my science subjects. At university I did some painting and was very much involved with the design and painting of sets for the theatre group - which lead to a novel set for a production of 'Two Noble Kinsmen' at the Edinburgh Festival fringe. I did some painting early in married life, with some ceramic work, and in recent years I have taken the opportunity to explore and develop my interests in art. For me the aim in art is to communicate my appreciation of the relationships between objects in the real world - to show not just recognizable objects but the context in which I appreciate them.

A number of my paintings are included on this website.

John Chubb, email:

© John Chubb
Page Updated : 21/12/2014