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Thursday 8 July 2004

 

Alexei Abrikosov

Public Orator, Professor Sir David Wallace presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Thursday 8 July 2004 at 3.00pm.


Chancellor,

Alexei Abrikosov was born in Moscow, into a medical family. His mother was a Kremlin doctor for Stalin and other party leaders, and his father was an extremely distinguished academician. But his family also knew the pleasures of the flesh as well as its imperfections – his father’s family were descended from manufacturer Abrikosov and Sons, which was famous for its chocolate production. After the revolution, the factories were confiscated, and renamed after the Russian revolutionary Babaev.

Professor Abrikosov graduated from Moscow State University in 1948, and gained his Candidate of Sciences (equivalent to the UK PhD) three years later from the Kapitza Institute for Physical Problems. He continued as a research scientist at the Kapitza Institute until 1965, when he moved to the Landau Institute, as Head of Solid State Theory. During much of this time he was also a Professor at Moscow State University.

At the Landau Institute, he maintained its world famous reputation for the production of outstanding theoretical physicists, including Feo Kusmartsev, Professor and Head of Department here at Loughborough. After three years as Director of the Institute for High Pressure Physics, he moved to Argonne National Laboratory in the USA in 1991, as Distinguished Senior Scientist.

The span of his contributions to theoretical physics is remarkable. His books have been exceptionally influential, with many editions, and translations worldwide. He has written more than 200 research papers on subjects as diverse as superconductivity, theory of metals, semimetals, semiconductors, magnetism, quantum liquids, statistical physics, astrophysics, plasma kinetics, molecular physics and quantum electrodynamics.

In addition to his principal positions, he has held many invited positions at distinguished universities, including the Moscow Institute for Steel and Alloys, the University of Illinois, the University of Utah, and currently Loughborough University, as Leverhulme Visiting Professor.

His honours include election to the USSR Academy of Sciences, Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellow of the American Physical Society, Member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, and Foreign Member of the Royal Society.

He is the recipient of Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Lausanne and Bordeaux, and of many prizes and awards: the Lenin Prize, the International Fritz London Award, the State Prize of the USSR, the Landau Prize of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, and the John Bardeen Award.

But beyond the spread of his work, it is its depth and impact for which he is so highly regarded. More than 50 years ago, he was the first to realise through the study of thin films that a new kind of superconductivity should exist – type II superconductors, involving a new state of matter, characterised by what are now called Abrikosov vortex lines, which can form a lattice. Subsequent experiments by Zavaritskii showed beautiful agreement with Abrikosov’s predictions. His theory is the main basis for all practical applications of superconductors, for example to power the magnets in Magnetic Resonance Imaging which millions of people benefit from every year. It is for this deep theoretical understanding that he shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2003.

It is most unusual for the Vice-Chancellor to subject Degree Congregations to yet another speech, but, as Vice-President of the Royal Society, and President of the Institute of Physics, delivering this oration is a privilege which I could not forego.

Chancellor, it gives me immense pleasure to present to you, and to the whole congregation, Nobel Laureate Alexei Alexeevich Abrikosov, for the Degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa.

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Loughborough University - Degree Speeches 2004

H.D.McCullam@lboro.ac.uk, July 2004
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