Alexander Prokhorov

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Alexander Prokhorov
Aleksandr Prokhorov.jpg
Alexander Michael Prochoroff

(1916-07-11)11 July 1916
Died8 January 2002(2002-01-08) (aged 85)
Resting place Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow
Nationality Soviet  / Russian
Known for Lasers and masers
Awards1964 Nobel Prize in Physics
1987 Lomonosov Gold Medal
Scientific career
Fields Physics

Alexander Mikhailovich Prokhorov [1] (born Alexander Michael Prochoroff, Russian : Алекса́ндр Миха́йлович Про́хоров; 11 July 1916 – 8 January 2002) was a Soviet physicist known for his pioneering research on lasers and masers for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1964 with Charles Hard Townes and Nikolay Basov.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Physicist scientist who does research in physics

A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies.

Laser Device which emits light via optical amplification

A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation". The first laser was built in 1960 by Theodore H. Maiman at Hughes Research Laboratories, based on theoretical work by Charles Hard Townes and Arthur Leonard Schawlow.


Early life

Alexander Michael Prochoroff was born on 11 July 1916 at Russell Road Peeramon, Queensland, Australia (now 322 Gadaloff Road, Butchers Creek, situated about 30 km from Atherton), to Mikhail Ivanovich Prokhorov and Maria Ivanovna (nee Mikhailovna), Russian revolutionaries who had emigrated from Russia to escape repression by the tsarist government. As a child he attended Butchers Creek School. [2] In 1923, after the October Revolution, the family returned to Russia. In 1934, Prokhorov entered the Saint Petersburg State University to study physics. He graduated with honors in 1939 and moved to Moscow to work at the Lebedev Physical Institute, in the oscillations laboratory headed by academician N. D. Papaleksi. His research there was devoted to propagation of radio waves in the ionosphere. At the onset of World War II in the Soviet Union, in June 1941, he joined the Red Army. During World War II, Prokhorov fought in the infantry, was wounded twice in battles, and was awarded three medals, including the Medal For Courage in 1946. [3] He was demobilized in 1944 and returned to the Lebedev Institute where, in 1946, he defended his Ph.D. thesis on "Theory of Stabilization of Frequency of a Tube Oscillator in the Theory of a Small Parameter". [1] [4] [5]

Queensland North-east state of Australia

Queensland is the second-largest and third-most populous state in the Commonwealth of Australia. Situated in the north-east of the country, it is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean. To its north is the Torres Strait, with Papua New Guinea located less than 200 km across it from the mainland. The state is the world's sixth-largest sub-national entity, with an area of 1,852,642 square kilometres (715,309 sq mi).

Butchers Creek, Queensland Suburb of Tablelands Region, Queensland, Australia

Butchers Creek is a locality in the Tablelands Region, Queensland, Australia.

Atherton, Queensland Town in Queensland, Australia

Atherton is a rural town and locality on the Atherton Tablelands within the Tablelands Region, Far North Queensland, Australia. At the 2011 census, Atherton had a population of 7,287.


In 1947, Prokhorov started working on coherent radiation emitted by electrons orbiting in a cyclic particle accelerator called a synchrotron. He demonstrated that the emission is mostly concentrated in the microwave spectral range. His results became the basis of his habilitation on "Coherent Radiation of Electrons in the Synchrotron Accelerator", defended in 1951. By 1950, Prokhorov was assistant chief of the oscillation laboratory. Around that time, he formed a group of young scientists to work on radiospectroscopy of molecular rotations and vibrations, and later on quantum electronics. The group focused on a special class of molecules which have three (non-degenerate) moments of inertia. The research was conducted both on experiment and theory. In 1954, Prokhorov became head of the laboratory. Together with Nikolay Basov he developed theoretical grounds for creation of a molecular oscillator and constructed such an oscillator based on ammonia. They also proposed a method for the production of population inversion using inhomogeneous electric and magnetic fields. Their results were first presented at a national conference in 1952, but not published until 1954–1955; [1] [5]

Particle accelerator device to propel charged particles to high speeds

A particle accelerator is a machine that uses electromagnetic fields to propel charged particles to very high speeds and energies, and to contain them in well-defined beams.

Synchrotron cyclic particle accelerator

A synchrotron is a particular type of cyclic particle accelerator, descended from the cyclotron, in which the accelerating particle beam travels around a fixed closed-loop path. The magnetic field which bends the particle beam into its closed path increases with time during the accelerating process, being synchronized to the increasing kinetic energy of the particles. The synchrotron is one of the first accelerator concepts to enable the construction of large-scale facilities, since bending, beam focusing and acceleration can be separated into different components. The most powerful modern particle accelerators use versions of the synchrotron design. The largest synchrotron-type accelerator, also the largest particle accelerator in the world, is the 27-kilometre-circumference (17 mi) Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland, built in 2008 by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). It can accelerate beams of protons to an energy of 6.5 teraelectronvolts (TeV).

Microwave form of electromagnetic radiation

Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths ranging from about one meter to one millimeter; with frequencies between 300 MHz (1 m) and 300 GHz (1 mm). Different sources define different frequency ranges as microwaves; the above broad definition includes both UHF and EHF bands. A more common definition in radio engineering is the range between 1 and 100 GHz. In all cases, microwaves include the entire SHF band at minimum. Frequencies in the microwave range are often referred to by their IEEE radar band designations: S, C, X, Ku, K, or Ka band, or by similar NATO or EU designations.

In 1955, Prokhorov started his research in the field of electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR). He focused on relaxation times of ions of the iron group elements in a lattice of aluminium oxide, but also investigated other, "non-optical", topics, such as magnetic phase transitions in DPPH. [6] In 1957, while studying ruby, a chromium-doped variation of aluminium oxide, he came upon the idea of using this material as an active medium of a laser. As a new type of laser resonator, he proposed, in 1958, an "open type" cavity design, which is widely used today. In 1963, together with A. S. Selivanenko, he suggested a laser using two-quantum transitions. For his pioneering work on lasers and masers, in 1964, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics shared with Nikolay Basov and Charles Hard Townes. [1] [5]

Electron paramagnetic resonance technique to study materials with unpaired electrons

Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) or electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy is a method for studying materials with unpaired electrons. The basic concepts of EPR are analogous to those of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), but it is electron spins that are excited instead of the spins of atomic nuclei. EPR spectroscopy is particularly useful for studying metal complexes or organic radicals. EPR was first observed in Kazan State University by Soviet physicist Yevgeny Zavoisky in 1944, and was developed independently at the same time by Brebis Bleaney at the University of Oxford.

Aluminium oxide Chemical compound

Aluminium oxide (IUPAC name) or aluminum oxide (American English) is a chemical compound of aluminium and oxygen with the chemical formula Al2O3. It is the most commonly occurring of several aluminium oxides, and specifically identified as aluminium(III) oxide. It is commonly called alumina and may also be called aloxide, aloxite, or alundum depending on particular forms or applications. It occurs naturally in its crystalline polymorphic phase α-Al2O3 as the mineral corundum, varieties of which form the precious gemstones ruby and sapphire. Al2O3 is significant in its use to produce aluminium metal, as an abrasive owing to its hardness, and as a refractory material owing to its high melting point.

DPPH chemical compound

DPPH is a common abbreviation for the organic chemical compound 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl. It is a dark-colored crystalline powder composed of stable free-radical molecules. DPPH has two major applications, both in laboratory research: one is a monitor of chemical reactions involving radicals, most notably it is a common antioxidant assay, and another is a standard of the position and intensity of electron paramagnetic resonance signals.

Posts and awards

In 1959, Prokhorov became a professor at Moscow State University – the most prestigious university in the Soviet Union; the same year, he was awarded the Lenin Prize. In 1960, he became a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and elected Academician in 1966. In 1967, he was awarded his first Order of Lenin (he received five of them during life, in 1967, 1969, 1975, 1981 and 1986). In 1968, he became vice-director of the Lebedev Institute and in 1971 took the position of Head of Laboratory of another prestigious Soviet institution, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. In the same year, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. [4] In 1983 he was elected a Member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. [7] Between 1982 and 1998, Prokhorov served as acting director of the General Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and after 1998 as honorary director. After his death in 2002, the institute was renamed the A. M. Prokhorov General Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. [4] [5] Prokhorov was a Member and one of the Honorary Presidents of the International Academy of Science, Munich and supported 1993 the foundation and development of the Russian Section of International Academy of Science, Moscow. [8] [9]

Moscow State University university in Moscow, Russia

Moscow State University is a coeducational and public research university located in Moscow, Russia. It was founded on 23 January [O.S. 12 January] 1755 by Mikhail Lomonosov. MSU was renamed after Lomonosov in 1940 and was then known as Lomonosov University. It also houses the tallest educational building in the world. Its current rector is Viktor Sadovnichiy. According to the 2018 QS World University Rankings, it is the highest-ranking Russian educational institution and is widely considered the most prestigious university in the former Soviet Union.

Lenin Prize Soviet award

The Lenin Prize was one of the most prestigious awards of the Soviet Union for accomplishments relating to science, literature, arts, architecture, and technology. It was originally created on June 23, 1925 and awarded until 1934. During the period from 1935 to 1956, the Lenin Prize was not awarded, being replaced largely by the Stalin Prize. On August 15, 1956, it was reestablished, and continued to be awarded on every even-numbered year until 1990. The award ceremony was April 22, Vladimir Lenin's birthday.

Russian Academy of Sciences academy of sciences

The Russian Academy of Sciences consists of the national academy of Russia; a network of scientific research institutes from across the Russian Federation; and additional scientific and social units such as libraries, publishing units, and hospitals.

In 1969, Prokhorov became a Hero of Socialist Labour, the highest degree of distinction in the Soviet Union for achievements in national economy and culture. He received the second such award in 1986. [5] Starting in 1969, he was the chief editor of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia. He was awarded the Frederic Ives Medal, the highest distinction of the Optical Society of America (OSA), in 2000 [10] and became an Honorary OSA Member in 2001. [11] The same year, he was awarded the Demidov Prize. [12]

Hero of Socialist Labour Title of honour of the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries

Hero of Socialist Labour was an honourary title of the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries. It was the highest degree of distinction for exceptional achievements in national economy and culture. It provided a similar status to the title Hero of the Soviet Union that was awarded for heroic deeds, but unlike the latter, was not awarded to foreign citizens.

<i>Great Soviet Encyclopedia</i> encyclopedia

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia is one of the largest Russian-language encyclopedias, published by the Soviet Union from 1926 to 1990. After 2002, the encyclopedia's data was partially included into the later Bolshaya Rossiyskaya entsiklopediya in an updated and revised form. The GSE claimed to be "the first Marxist-Leninist general-purpose encyclopedia".

Frederic Eugene Ives American inventor

Frederic Eugene Ives was a U.S. inventor, born at Litchfield, Connecticut. In 1874–78 he had charge of the photographic laboratory at Cornell University. He moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where in 1885 he was one of the founding members of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia. He was awarded the Franklin Institute's Elliott Cresson Medal in 1893, the Edward Longstreth Medal in 1903, and the John Scott Medal in 1887, 1890, 1904 and 1906. His son Herbert E. Ives was a pioneer of television and telephotography, including color facsimile.


Prokhorov became a member of the Communist Party in 1950. [13] In 1983, together with three other academicians – Andrey Tychonoff, Anatoly Dorodnitsyn and Georgy Skryabin – he signed the famous open letter [14] denouncing Andrey Sakharov's article [15] in the Foreign Affairs .


Both of Prokhorov's parents died during World War II. Prokhorov married geographer Galina Shelepina in 1941, and they had a son, Kiril, born in 1945. Following his father, Kiril Prokhorov became a physicist in the field of optics and is currently leading a laser-related laboratory at the A. M. Prokhorov General Physics Institute. [3] [16]

Alexander Prokhorov on 2016 postage stamp of Russia RUSMARKA-2143.jpg
Alexander Prokhorov on 2016 postage stamp of Russia

Honours and awards


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  1. 1 2 3 4 "Aleksandr M. Prokhorov - Biographical". Archived from the original on 21 February 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  2. Tablelander (newspaper) July 19, 2016 'Prokharov centenary'
  3. 1 2 Основные даты жизни и деятельности академика А.М. Прохорова Archived 2010-12-11 at the Wayback Machine ‹See Tfd› (in Russian)
  4. 1 2 3 Прохоров Александр Михайлович Archived 2015-10-05 at the Wayback Machine in Great Soviet Encyclopedia ‹See Tfd› (in Russian)
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Прохоров Александр Михайлович Archived 2011-05-15 at the Wayback Machine at ‹See Tfd› (in Russian)
  6. A. M. Prokhorov and V.B. Fedorov, Soviet Physics JETP 16 (1963) 1489.
  7. "List of Members". Archived from the original on 4 October 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  8. "Presidium of the International Academy of Science=" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-16.
  9. "Foundation of the Russian Section of the International Academy of Science=". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-16.
  10. Frederic Ives Medal Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  11. OSA Honorary Members Archived 2008-08-20 at the Wayback Machine
  12. Сост. И. Г. Бебих; Г. Н. Михайлова; А. В. Троицкий (2004). Александр Михайлович Прохоров, 1916-2002 (Материалы к биобиблиогр. ученых) 2-е изд., доп. (in Russian). М.: Наука. p. 442. ISBN   5-02-033176-7. Archived from the original on 2007-08-21.
  13. "Australia's forgotten Nobel Prize winner: Laser pioneer Alexander Prokhorov". ABC News. 3 August 2016. Archived from the original on 2 April 2017. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  14. Когда теряют честь и совесть Archived 2009-11-19 at the Wayback Machine ‹See Tfd› (in Russian)
  15. "The Montreal Gazette - Google News Archive Search" . Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  16. "éÎÓÔÉÔÕÔ ÏÂÝÅÊ ÆÉÚÉËÉ ÉÍ. á.í. ðÒÏÈÏÒÏ×Á". Archived from the original on 21 February 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2015.