Low Temperature Physics in Kharkov

The development of low temperature physics was initiated in the Ukraine since the Ukrainian Physico-Technical Institute (the Ukrainian abbreviation - UFTI) was established in Kharkov in 1928. It was initiated by Academician A.F. Ioffe. A small group of researchers from the Leningrad Physico-Technical Institute (the A.F. Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute now) formed the backbone of the future Institute.

I.Obreimov was the first director of the UFTI. He organized a cryogenic laboratory in the Institute, which was first engaged only in spectroscopic studies on crystals. The field of research was however extending rapidly. In 1930 L.V.Shubnikov, a gifted physicist of wide-range physical interests, came to Kharkov after his training in Leiden. He initiated studies in the field of superconductivity, magnetism, thermodynamic properties of bodies including the properties of helium and so on. The Institute succeeded in producing liquid nitrogen in 1930, liquid hydrogen in 1931 and liquid helium in 1932. That was how the Cryogenic Laboratory, the first in the USSR and in the Ukraine and the fourth in the world was established which was headed by L.V. Shubnikov.

The scientific subjects of the laboratory were formed by its head in close cooperation with L.D. Landau who came to Kharkov in 1932 and was L.V. Shubnikov's friend.

Along with fundamental research the laboratory started applied studies on using high cooling in industry for separation of air and coke-oven gas components, for production of liquid methane and so on. In 1933 L.V. Shubnikov proposed to organize a specialized technical laboratory, which had to link science and industries. This laboratory named "Pilot Station for High Cooling" was established in 1935.

By 1937 the achievements in the above trends of low temperature physics and technology had been so appreciable that in January 1937 a special meeting of the USSR Academy of Sciences was held in Kharkov. It came into history as the First All-Union Conference on Cryogenics, accenting the value of the scientific performance of L.V. Shubnikov, his colleagues and disciples.

When in 1937 L.V. Shubnikov fell a victim to the Stalin repressive actions, the traditions of his low temperature Physical school were kept up in the Laboratory which since 1938 was headed by B.G. Lazarev. Practically in every field of low temperature physics, the name of B.G. Lazarev is connected with fundamental research highly important to progress of home science.

In 1961 E.S. Borovik organized another cryogenic laboratory in the UFTI, which carried out special studies in physics of plasma.

In 1955 the Institute of Radio Physics and Electronics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine was established in Kharkov, which was engaged in problems of the electron energy spectrum and radiospectroscopy at low temperatures.

The huge-grade and wide range of the Kharkov cryogenic researchers were conducive to establishment in 1960 in Kharkov of a specialized institute for low temperature physics - the Institute for Low Temperature Physics and Engineering of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Its first director was B.I. Verkin .

In 1967 the Cryogenic Laboratory of Kharkov State University started work with liquid helium. Since 1952 there is "low temperature physics" specialization in the University. The first cryogenic practical work course initiated by L.V. Shubnikov has been operated since 1935.

In 1972, due mainly to B.I. Verkin's initiative, the Institute for Cryobiology and Cryomedicine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine was established.

At the end of the 70-ies the Chair for Cryophysical Engineering starts to operate at Kharkov Politechnical University with an active and effective support of the ILTPE researchers.

Kharkov was the place where international conferences and meetings on various problems of low temperature physics were repeatedly held. Since 1975 here the Journal "Physica Nizkih Temperatur" has been published. The Journal is translated into English and published in the USA as  "Low Temperature Physics"  by American Institute of Physics.

Copyright © 1995-2021 B. Verkin ILTPE of NASU. All rights reserved.