Physical Problems, Institute of

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Physical Problems, Institute of


(full name, S. I. Vavilov Institute of Physical Problems of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR), a scientific research institution at which work is conducted in low-temperature physics and engineering, high-power electronics, plasma physics, accelerator technology, and theoretical physics. The institute was founded in 1934 in Moscow by the academician P. L. Kapitsa, who was its director from 1934 to 1946 and again from 1955.

Among the scientists working (1977) at the institute are the academicians A. S. Borovik-Romanov and I. M. Lifshits and the corresponding members N. E. Alekseevskii, L. A. Vainshtein, E. M. Lifshits, L. P. Pitaevskii, A. I. Shal’nikov, and Iu. V. Sharvin. The scientists who have worked at one time or another at the institute include the academicians A. P. Aleksandrov, A. N. Krylov, L. D. Landau, and V. A. Fok and the corresponding members L. P. Gor’kov, I. E. Dzialoshinskii, P. G. Strelkov, A. A. Abrikosov and I. M. Khalatnikov.

The Zeeman effect and the Paschen-Back effect have been studied in record-strong magnetic fields (up to 350 kilooersteds) at the institute. Major contributions have been made to the development of low-temperature physics. The phenomenon of superfluidity was discovered and investigated, a quantum theory of superfluidity was constructed, the existence of second sound was predicted and experimentally detected, the theory of the Fermi fluid was constructed, and the superfluidity of liquid 3He was predicted. A number of classic experiments were carried out in superconductivity, resulting in the discovery and comprehensive study of the intermediate state and the development of a phenomenological theory of superconductivity and a theory of type II superconductors. Extensive research has been conducted on the electron spectra of metals: methods of experimentally studying Fermi surfaces were developed and the existence of multiply connected Fermi surfaces was detected, quantum surface levels of electrons moving in a magnetic field were detected, and the radio-frequency size effect was discovered. The institute has made major contributions to the study of antiferromagnetism, including the construction of a theory explaining the appearance of noncollinear structures in antiferromagnets and the discovery of the piezomagnetic effect.

The radial gas turbine expansion engine was developed at the institute. It has served as the prototype throughout the world for various large low-temperature units for obtaining oxygen from air that operate only at low pressures.

An original design for an electron accelerator—the microtron—was proposed at the institute, as well as a new type of microwave oscillator—the Nigotron—whose power while operating in the continuous mode is 175 kW. The latter has been used to produce a plasma-column discharge in gases under a pressure of a few technical atmospheres, and scientists have shown that the electron temperature of plasma in the discharge reaches about 106°K. This has revealed a new approach to solving the problem of constructing a thermonuclear reactor.

The institute was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor in 1945.


Kapitsa, P. L. “Doklad ob organizatsii nauchnoi raboty Instituta fizicheskikh problem AN SSSR.” Vestnik AN SSSR, no. 6. 1943.
Kapitsa, P. L. Eksperiment, teoriia, praktika. Moscow, 1974. Pages 59–78.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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