Nikolay Nikolaevich


Nikolay Nikolaevich Semenov was the Director of the Institute of Chemical Physics of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences, twice Hero of Socialist Labor. Since 1927 Semenov was the head of the chemical-physical sector, on the basis of which the Institute of Chemical Physics was organized in 1931, which he led for 55 years (1931-1986). In the 1920s N.N. Semenov discovered the mechanism of thermal electrical breakdown of dielectrics and created its theory. Semenov showed that when a sufficiently large potential difference is brought to the dielectric and a current occurs, the heat sinks into the external environment is unable to compensate for the heat input, progressive heating begins, the dielectric melts and becomes a conductor. These representations were strictly mathematically formulated, confirmed experimentally and allowed to calculate the breakdown potentials from the data on the thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity of the substance. On January 31, 1929, Semenov was elected a corresponding member, and on March 29, 1932 – a full member (Academician) of the USSR Academy of Sciences. At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the Institute of Chemical Physics (ICP) was evacuated to Kazan, where in 1941-1943 N.N. Semenov worked on defence topics. In 1943 the ICP was transferred to Moscow. N.N. Semenov, as the creator of the theories of chain branched reactions, combustion and explosions, clearly understood the importance of work on the use of atomic energy for peaceful and military purposes. Together with P.L. Kapitsa, he was one of the founders of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in 1946, he was the founder and scientific director of the Faculty of Molecular and Chemical Physics of this institute. In the 1940s and 50s he participated in the Soviet atomic project. A number of major physicists and chemists belonged to the scientific school of Semenov: Ya.B. Zeldovich, V.N. Kondratiev, Yu.B. Khariton, K.I. Shchelkin, N.M. Emanuel, D. A. Frank-Kamenetsky, etc. In 1956 together with Englishman Cyril Norman Hinshelwood, Semenov was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the mechanism of chemical reactions.

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