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