Chernov, Dmitrii

Chernov, Dmitrii Konstantinovich


Born Oct. 20 (Nov. 1), 1839, in St. Petersburg; died Jan. 2, 1921, in Yalta. Russian scientist; specialist in metallurgy, metal science, and the heat treatment of metals.

The son of a feldsher, Chernov graduated from the St. Petersburg Institute of Practical Technology in 1858 and worked in the mechanical department of the St. Petersburg Mint. From 1859 to 1866 he was an instructor, an assistant librarian, and a curator in the museum of the St. Petersburg Institute of Practical Technology. In 1866 he became an engineer in the forging shop of the Obukhov Steel Mill in St. Petersburg, and from 1880 to 1884 he was engaged in prospecting deposits of rock salt in the Bakhmut region of the Donets Coal Basin; the beds he discovered proved to be of industrial importance. Upon returning to St. Petersburg in 1884, Chernov worked on the Naval Engineering Committee. Beginning in 1886 he simultaneously served as chief inspector of the Ministry of Railroad Transport in charge of overseeing the filling of orders at metallurgical works. He became a professor of metallurgy at the Mikhail Artillery Academy in 1889.

Chernov engaged in a practical investigation into the causes of defective products in the manufacture of gun forgings and an intensive analysis of the works of his predecessors P. P. Anosov, P. M. Obukhov, A. S. Lavrov, and N. V. Kalakutskii on the problems of smelting, casting, and forging steel ingots. As a result, between 1866 and 1868, Chernov demonstrated the dependence of the structure and properties of steel on the hot working techniques and heat treatments used. He discovered the critical temperatures for steel at which, as a result of heating or cooling in the solid state, phase transformations occur that significantly alter the structure and properties of the metal. These transformation temperatures, which were determined from the temperature colors of the steel, have been called Chernov’s points. Chernov also demonstrated graphically the effect of carbon on the transformation temperatures when he drew the first sketch of the configuration for the most important lines in the iron-carbon phase diagram (seeIRON-CARBON ALLOYS). The results of his study, which marked the beginning of modern metallography, were published by Chernov in Zapiski Russkogo tekhnicheskogo obshchestva (Proceedings of the Russian Technical Society, 1868, no. 7) under the title “A Critical Review of the Aritcles of Messrs. Lavrov and Kalakutskii on Steel and Steel Guns and D. K. Chernov’s Own Studies on the Same Subject.”

In another major scientific article, “Investigations Concerning the Structure of Cast Steel Ingots” (1879), Chernov presented an elegant theory of the crystallization of a steel ingot. He made a detailed study of the formation and growth processes of crystals (in particular, the dendritic steel crystals sometimes called Chernov crystals), devised a diagram of the structural zones in an ingot, developed a theory of successive crystallization, made a thorough investigation of flaws in cast steel, and demonstrated effective measures to prevent such flaws. Chernov’s studies greatly aided the transformation of metallurgy from a craft to a scientific discipline with a theoretical foundation.

Chernov’s works on the intensification of metallurgical processes and on the improvement of production techniques were of major importance to the progress of steel metallurgy. He proved the value of completely deoxidizing steel during smelting and the expediency of using multiple deoxidizers; he also recommended a system of practices that resulted in a dense, bubble-free metal. He suggested agitating the metal during crystallization and proposed a rotating ingot mold for this purpose.

Chernov did much to improve the converter method of producing cast steel. In 1872 he proposed using a cupola furnace to heat low-silicon liquid pig iron, which was considered to be unsuitable for the Bessemer process, before processing in a Bessemer converter; the technique subsequently became common practice in Russian and foreign foundries. Chernov used a spectroscopic instrument to determine the completion of the Bessemer process, and he was one of the first to demonstrate the advantage of using air enriched with oxygen for blowing through liquid cast iron in a converter (1876). He also worked on the direct reduction of iron ore to produce steel without the blast furance process. He was responsible for a number of important studies relating to artillery, including the production of high-quality steel gun barrels and steel armor-piercing shells and an investigation of combustion in the bores of guns during firing that results from the action of the propellant gases and other factors. Chernov was also well known for a series of articles on mathematics, mechanics, and aviation.

Chernov was the founder of modern metal science and of a major scientific school of Russian metallurgists and metal scientists. His discoveries have been recognized throughout the world. Chernov was elected honorary chairman of the Russian Metallurgical Society and honorary vice-president of the Iron and Steel Institute in Great Britain. He was an honorary member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers and of several other Russian and foreign scientific institutions.


Stalelileinoe delo: Lektsii, chilannye v Mikhailovskoi artilleriiskoi akademii. St. Petersburg, 1898.
“Materialy dlia izucheniia bessemerovaniia.” Zhurnal Russkogo metallurgichskogo obshchestva, 1915, no. 1.


D. K. Chernov i naukao metattakh: Sb. Leningrad-Moscow, 1950.
Golovin, A. F. “D. K. Chernov—osnovopolozhnik nauki o metallakh.” In the collection Trudy po istorii tekhniki, fasc. 5. Moscow, 1954.
Golovin, A. F. “O zhizni i deiatel’nosti Dmitriia Konstantinovicha Chernova (1839–1921).” lzv. AN SSSR: Metally, 1969, issue 1.
Gumilevskii, L. Chernov. Moscow, 1975.
Dmitrii Konstantinovich Chernov: Bibliograficheskii ukazatel’. Compiled by I. A. Mel’nikov. Leningrad, 1951.