100th Anniversary of the Ioffe Institute

2018 is the year when the Ioffe Institute (former Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute) celebrates its centenary!

The Ioffe Institute is one of Russia’s largest institutions for research in physics and technology with a wide variety of research topics. It was founded in 1918 and run for several decades by Abram F. Ioffe. So it is quite natural that the Institute bears the name of this outstanding scholar and organizer.

Abram Fedorovich Ioffe, an outstanding Russian physicist who founded and headed for many years one of the major physical  schools of the former USSR.
Having graduated from St Petersburg Technological Institute in 1902, Ioffe gained experience in the famous W. Roentgen laboratory at Munich and in 1906 returned to St Petersburg to continue his research activity at St Petersburg Polytechnical Institute (now Peter the Great Polytechnic University).

It was there that his famous scientific school was established. The leading representatives of this school formed the core of the State Institute for Roentgenology and Radiology, one of the first research centres of Russia, established by A. F. Ioffe in 1918. In three years, the Physical-Technical Department of this Institute separated to become the Physico-Technical Institute, headed by Ioffe until 1950. At present, the Institute bears his name.

It is difficult to overestimate Ioffe's contribution to the organization of a network of physical institutes in the former USSR (more than 20 institutes have originated from the Physical-Technical Institute) and to the development of a new educational system. In 1919 Ioffe established in the Polytechnical Institute a Physico-Mechanical Department for teaching students not only pure but applied physics too. For many decades this Department has been functioning in close contact with the Physical-Technical Institute.

The main scientific achievements of Ioffe relate to crystal physics (electrical, photoelectrical and mechanical properties) and X-ray structural analysis. As far back as the beginning of the 1930s, Ioffe settled on studies of semiconductors. This field has become one of the leading directions of research at the Ioffe Institute.


The Institute is rightly considered to be the cradle of Russian physics. Future Nobel laureates N. Semenov, L. Landau, P. Kapitsa, J. Alferov began their scientific career here. World famous scientists A. Aleksandrov, E. Gross, Ya. Zeldovich, I. Kurchatov, I. Tamm (also a future Nobel laureate), Ya. Frenkel and many others worked here.

The works done at the institute were twice awarded with the Nobel Prizes:


N.Semenov is a Soviet physicist and chemist, one of the founders of chemical physics, an academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1932, a corresponding member since 1929), the only Soviet Nobel Prize winner in chemistry.
In May 1920, Semyonov came to Petrograd (temporary name of St.Petersburg), after receiving an invitation from A. Ioffe, who was engaged in the creation of the Physical Technical Institute of Radiology and headed the laboratory of electronic phenomena, and in 1922 becamethe appointed deputy director of the Physical Technical Institute.

Since 1928 Semenov had been a professor at the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute. In 1927 N. Semenov became the head of the chemical and physical sector of the Physical Technical Institute on the basis of which in 1931 he founded the Institute of Chemical Physics of the USSR Academy of Sciences, whose permanent director he was until the end of his life. A few years after its foundation the Institute moved to Moscow. The main scientific achievements include the quantitative theory of chemical chain reactions, the theory of thermal explosion, combustion of gas mixtures.

In 1956 the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to N. Semenov (together with S. Khinshelwood) "for the discovery and investigation of chain chemical reactions". The researches marked by the award were performed at the Physical Technical Institute and published in 1927, when N. Semenov was an employee of the Ioffe Institute.


Zhores Alferov is a Soviet and Russian physicist, the only alive Russian Nobel laureate. Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Sciences from 1991 to 2017. Chairman of the Presidium of the St. Petersburg Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1979, Corresponding Member 1972). Laureate of the Lenin Prize (1972), the State Prize of the USSR (1984), the State Prize of the Russian Federation (2001). Full Commander of the Order "For Services to the Fatherland".

In 1953 Alferov started working at the Ioffe Institute as a junior research associate in the laboratory of V. Tuchkevich and took part in the development of the first Soviet transistors and power germanium devices. In 1961 he became a candidate of physical and mathematical sciences.

In 1970 Alferov defended his thesis generalizing a new stage of research on heterojunctions in semiconductors and received a doctorate in physical and mathematical sciences. In 1972 Alferov became a professor and a year later - head of the basic department of optoelectronics LETI. From the beginning of the 1990s Alferov studied the properties of nanostructures of reduced dimensionality: quantum wires and quantum dots. From 1987 to May 2003 he was the director of the Ioffe Institute.

In 2000 the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Zh. Alferov (together with G. Kremer and S. Kilbi) for the work on the creation and development of semiconductor heterostructures, which "laid the foundation of modern information technology."

Also several future Nobel laureates worked at the Ioffe Institute:

Petr Kapitsa (1894 - 1984) - Soviet physicist, engineer and innovator. Founder of the Institute of Physical Problems (IFP), Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. The first head of the Department of Low Temperature Physics of the Physics Department of Moscow State University.

A. Ioffe invited Petr Kapitsa to work in the Physical-Technical Department of the newly established Radiographic and Radiological Institute (which was reorganized in November 1921 into the Physical-Technical Institute) even before the defense of the diploma. The scientist published his first scientific papers in the ZhRFHO and began teaching students.

He moved to England in 1921 and settle in the Cavendish Laboratory under the leadership of Ernest Rutherford thanks to the advice of A. Ioffe.

Igor Tamm (1895 – 1971) - Soviet theoretical physicist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics (with P. Cherenkov and I. Frank, 1958). The basic directions of Tamm's scientific work relate to quantum mechanics, solid-state physics, radiation theory, nuclear physics, elementary particle physics, and to solving a number of applied problems. He described the motion of particles in a medium at a speed exceeding the speed of light in this medium (the Frank-Tamm formula) together with I. Frank in 1937, for which in 1958 Cherenkov, Frank and Tamm received the Nobel Prize in Physics.

I. Tamm worked in the Ioffe Institute in 1942 – 1946.

Lev Landau (1908-1968) - Soviet theoretical physicist, founder of the scientific school, academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences, winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physics. He started his postgraduate studies In the Ioffe Institute of Physics and Technology in 1927 and worked there till 1932. While being a post-graduate student Landau introduced a new concept – “density matrix” in his work "The problem of radiation deceleration".

Academician Landau is considered a legendary figure in the history of Soviet and world science. Quantum Mechanics, Solid State Physics, Magnetism, Low-Temperature Physics, Superconductivity and Superfluidity, Cosmic Ray Physics, Astrophysics, Hydrodynamics, Quantum Electrodynamics, Quantum Field Theory, Atomic Nucleus Physics and Elementary Particle Physics, Theory of Chemical Reactions, Plasma Physics – Landau made a fundamental contribution to all these areas.

In 1962 the Nobel Prize "for pioneering research in the theory of condensed matter, especially liquid helium" was awarded with Landau.

Many famous scientists of the USSR and the Russian Federation worked at the Institute:

Evgeny F. Gross (1897 – 1972), soviet experimental physicist started working in the Ioffe Institute in 1944 by the invitation of A. Ioffe. E. Gross created in the Institute an optical laboratory that actively collaborated with the Leningrad State University and was the basis for practical training of students and graduate students on high-quality equipment. At that time he continued to study Raman scattering of light (study of second-order scattering in crystals, allowing spectroscopically to observe the entire elastic spectrum of the lattice, studies of the hydrogen bond in crystals and liquids, etc.). Scientific interests Ε. Gross shifts to the study of the electronic spectra of crystals. These researches were made mainly in the Ioffe Institute. 

Yakov Frenkel (1894 – 1952) is a Soviet theoretical physicist. Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences. He is a laureate of the Stalin Prize of the first degree. In 1912 while still studying in the gymnasium he wrote his first work on the magnetic field of the Earth and atmospheric electricity. This work Yakov Frenkel showed A. Ioffe, who read it and commented. Acquaintance with Ioffe led to their friendship with Frenkel and cooperation in the future. Frenkel worked in the Ioffe Institute of Physics and Technology From 1921 until the end of his life.

Igor Kurchatov (1903 – 1960) is a Soviet physicist, the "father" of a Soviet atomic bomb. Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1943) and AS of Uzb. SSR (1959), Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (1933), Professor (1935). Founder and first director of the Institute of Atomic Energy (1943-1960). Chief scientific adviser of the atomic problem in the USSR, one of the founders of the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

By the recommendation of Professor S. Usatov, with whom Kurchatov worked in Baku, he became a research fellow at the Ioffe Physical Technical Institute in 1925. He became the head of the physical department of the Ioffe Institute on October 1, 1930.


  • 1927 Thermal Engineering Institute - now JSC "Scientific and Production Association for Research and Design of Power Equipment named after I. I.I. Polzunova" http://ckti.ru/ 
  • 1931 Leningrad Institute of Chemical Physics - today it exists as the Institute of Chemical Physics in Moscow http://www.chph.ras.ru/  
  • 1931 Institute of Musical Acoustics
  • 1931 Leningrad Electrophysical Institute - In 1935, the Electrophysics Institute was disbanded, and on its basis a new "closed" institute NII-9 with defense subjects, including radar was organized.
  • 1931 Physico-Agronomical Institute - today Agrophysical Research Institute http://www.agrophys.ru/history 
  • 1943 Laboratory No.2 - Laboratory No. 2 for the study of the atomic nucleus was renamed into the Laboratory of Measuring Devices of the USSR Academy of Sciences then transformed into Kurchatov institute.
  • 1945 Laboratory No. 3 - today Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics named after A.Alikhanova http://www.itep.ru/eng/in_rus.shtml 
  • 1972 Leningrad Institute of Nuclear Physics named after B.P. Konstantinova (PNPI named after B. Konstantinov Research Center "Kurchatov Institute") http://www.pnpi.spb.ru/ 
  • 1977 Leningrad Scientific Research Computing Center  -  St. Petersburg Institute of Informatics and Automation of RAS http://www.spiiras.nw.ru/ 
  • 1991 Scientific and Technological Center of Microelectronics RAS http://ntcm-ras.ru/ 
  • 2004 St.Petersburg Physicotechnological Research and Education Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg National Research Academic University of the Russian Academy of Sciences) http://www.spbau.ru/ 


  • 1928 Siberian Institute of Physics and Technology (Tomsk) - today Siberian Physicotechnical Institute named after V. Kuznetsova https://spti.tsu.ru/ 
  • 1929 Ukrainian Institute of Physics and Technology (Kharkov) - today National Science Center Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology http://www.kipt.kharkov.ua/ 
  • 1931 Central Asian Helio-Technical Institute (Samarkand)
  • 1932 Ural Physical Technical Institute
  • 1933 Dnepropetrovsk Physical Technical Institute
  • 1954 Institute of Semiconductors, Academy of Sciences - today Institute of Semiconductor Physics, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IFP SB RAS) http://www.isp.nsc.ru/