Sergei Vasilevich Lebedev

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lebedev, Sergei Vasil’evich


Born July 13 (25), 1874, in Lublin, now in the Polish People’s Republic; died May 2, 1934, in Leningrad. Soviet chemist; academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1932; corresponding member, 1928). Student of A. E. Favorskii.

Lebedev was educated in a Gymnasium in Warsaw. In 1900 he graduated from the University of St. Petersburg and began working there in 1902. In 1925 he established the Laboratory for the Chemical Refining of Petroleum and Coal at the university. From 1928 to 1930 he was the director of the Synthetic Rubber Laboratory, which was founded on his initiative. In 1934 he established the Macromolecular Compounds Laboratory at the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

Lebedev’s main works were devoted to the study of polymerization processes. From 1908 to 1913 he conducted research on the polymerization of hydrocarbons in the butadiene (divinyl) and allene series; the treatment of the process proposed by Lebedev fully corresponds to current concepts of the chain reaction mechanism. In 1909–10, Lebedev published his studies on the polymerization of isoprene and diisopropenyl. He was the first to obtain a sample of synthetic butadiene rubber (1910).

Lebedev’s work The Study of Diethylene Hydrocarbon Polymerization (1913) was the scientific basis for the industrial synthesis of rubber. In 1914 he began research on the polymerization of acetylene and ethylene hydrocarbons, which involved a detailed study of isobutylene polymerization and the depolymerization of isobutylene polymers upon action of Floridin (acid aluminosilicate). In addition, he was the first to demonstrate the positive effect of low temperatures on the production of macromolecular substances. These studies, published in 1935, were the basis for the industrial methods used in preparing butyl rubber and polyisobutylenes.

In 1926–28, as an entry in the international competition for the development of an industrial method for the synthesis of rubber announced by the Supreme Council on the National Economy of the USSR, Lebedev and a group of co-workers devised the best method for preparing sodium-butadiene rubber. In 1928–31 he studied the properties of sodium-butadiene rubber, discovered active fillers for the latter, and proposed a basic formula (mix) for synthetic rubber products. In 1931 he was awarded the Order of Lenin “for particularly outstanding service in solving the problems encountered in the preparation of synthetic rubber.”

From 1912 to 1915, Lebedev was engaged in research on the extraction of toluene through petroleum pyrolysis. A benzenetoluene plant that operated according to the system devised by Lebedev was constructed in Baku near the end of World War I (1914–18). The relationships established by Lebedev regarding the effect of the structure of unsaturated compounds on the rate and nature of their hydrogenation are of extremely great importance.

A number of scientific institutes have been named after Lebedev, including the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Synthetic Rubber. In addition, the Academy of Sciences of the USSR has established the Lebedev Prize for outstanding research in polymer chemistry.


Izbr. raboty po organicheskoi khimii. Leningrad, 1958.


S. V. Lebedev. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949. (Materialy k biobibliografii uchenykh SSSR: Ser. khimicheskikh nauk, fasc. 13.)
Akademik S. V. Lebedev: K 80-letiiu so dnia rozhdeniia. Moscow 1954.
Sergienko, S. R. Akademik S. V. Lebedev: Zhizn’ i nauchnaia deiatel’nost’ Moscow, 1959.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.