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Semenov Nikolay Nikolaevich: biography, scientific activity

Semenov Nikolai is a well-known Soviet chemist who is one of the founders of chemical physics. Also our hero was an academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences.


The future scientist was born in the Russian city of Saratov in April 1896. Nikolai graduated from the Saratov real school in 1913, and his name was added to the gold plaque. During the training the guy got acquainted with Vladimir Karmilov - his teacher and friend. It was he who supported Semenov's zeal to devote his life to science. They carried their friendship in a year. In the summer of 1913, Nikolai Semenov entered the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics at Petrograd University. Nikolai Alexandrovich Semyonov was a military man and thought that his son would also devote himself to this career. When he entered the university, a split occurred in the family, which lasted for several years. Beginning with the second year of study, the young man began to engage in serious research under the guidance of A. Ioffe. He also wrote several scientific papers on atoms and molecules. In 1917, he graduated from the university and received a diploma of the first degree. Semenov Nikolai Nikolayevich remains in the educational institution, having entered the professorial scholarship (modern postgraduate study).


Biography Semenov Nikolai Nikolaevich commits a new round when he in 1918 went to Samara to visit his parents. Arriving there, he finds a mutiny of the Czechoslovak Corps. In the summer of 1918 the power in Samara was seized by the Socialist-Revolutionaries. After a while Nicholas is called to become a volunteer soldier of the White Army. There, he served only three weeks as a horse-drawn artillery battery. Such a short period of service is due to the fact that soon the news came that his father was seriously ill. The young man got a vacation, but his father soon died.


After this, Nikolai decided to return to the scene of the hostilities, but deserted and went to Tomsk, which was the nearest university campus. About two years of his life, the scientist spent here working at the university and the Technological Institute. However, after a time, the scientist was mobilized to the Kolchak army. He was in the artillery battalion, but was soon transferred to the radio-battalion due to the persistence of his colleagues. After that, he was able to continue his studies at the Technological Institute. In the winter of 1919, the city was captured by the Red Army. This led to the fact that Semenov was fired, after which he continued to engage in scientific and teaching work.

Invitations to A. Ioffe

In the spring of 1920, Nikolai Semenov, whose biography is making another unexpected turn, returns to Petrograd at the invitation of his friend A. Ioffe, who at the time was creating the Physico-Technical Institute of Radiology. Semenov began to manage the laboratory of electronic phenomena, and after a while he served as deputy director at the Physico-Technical Institute. Together with P. Kapitza, our hero offers the scientific world a new way of measuring the magnetic field of an atom in an inhomogeneous field. The same method was actively developed by two other scientists O. Stern and V. Gerlach. In 1928, Nikolai Semenov received the title of professor of the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute. After a while he creates the Institute of Chemical Physics and becomes his permanent director until the last days of his life. An interesting fact is that within a few days after the foundation of the university, he was transferred to Moscow.

Soon the professor became a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, and in 1932 - her real member. Shortly thereafter, he publishes a monograph entitled "Chemical kinetics and chain reactions," where he argues proving the existence of a chain reaction.


Nikolai Semyonov is a chemist who was useful to his state even during the war. In 1941, he was evacuated to Kazan, where they were instructed to deal with issues of explosions and burning. Soon he returns to the capital and begins to work as a teacher at Moscow State University. Employees of the university were extremely cold about the appearance of Semenov in their circles. In the same year he organizes the Department of Chemical Kinetics, which he heads for the next 40 years.

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

In 1946 he organized together with P. Kapitsa the abovementioned educational institution Semenov and simultaneously becomes its co-founder and scientific supervisor of the chemical faculty. Ten years of his life (1940-1950) he is an active participant and figure of the Soviet atomic project. In 1947, Nikolai Semenov joined the ranks of the CPSU. From 1961 to 1966 he was a candidate member of the Central Committee, and also became a deputy of the Supreme Council three times. In 1966, he was elected deputy of the 7th convocation from the district number 512.

The scientist was one of the opponents of nuclear war. His scientific school includes such chemists and physicists as Ya. Zeldovich, Yu. Khariton, N. Emanuel. The great scientist in the capital of Russia is buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery. Death came from natural causes in the fall of 1986.

Scientific activity

Nikolai Semenov, whose brief biography is the topic of this article, has made many useful scientific discoveries. The main ones concern the theory of thermal explosion, burning of gas mixtures and the theory of chain reactions in chemistry. The first serious question of the scientist was the problem of ionization of gases. He also dealt with the topic of breakdown of dielectrics, which later led him to create a thermal theory of breakdown. It was the basis for the creation of the theory of thermal ignition. All this allowed the scientist to deal with the issues of detonation and combustion of explosives.

Together with the scientist P. Kapitsa conducted experiments, which made it possible to calculate the deviation of a beam of paramagnetic atoms in an inhomogeneous field. With Yu Khariton he was able to detect the condensation temperature and its critical density.

The scientist gained the greatest popularity due to his theory of chain reactions. A little later he proved the radical nature of the chain process, citing a number of arguments. These discoveries of the scientist opened up new horizons for chemists. With A. Shilov proved the interconnection of energy processes and the development of chain reactions. In 1956, Semenov was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He is also the author of the book "The phenomenon of the energy branching of chains in chemical reactions."

Nikolai Semenov, whose photo is in the article, has finalized the method of quasistationary Bodenshtein concentrations. Prior to this, this method was the only basis for carrying out kinetic calculations in practice. The individual works of the scientist are devoted to the theme of catalytic processes. He substantiated the theory of heterogeneous catalysis along with F. Wolkenstein and V. Voevodsky.

A family

Semenov Nikolai Nikolayevich grew up in a very decent family. As we already know, his father was an officer. After his resignation he worked as an official, and later became a state counselor and received a personal nobility. The mother of the chemist, Elena Alexandrovna, had an aristocratic background. The grandfather of Nikolai Semenov on the maternal line was a Tsarskoe Selo servant.

Our hero married in 1921 on a philologist-novelist, a professor at the University of Petrograd and translator Dante Maria Isidorovna Boreyshe-Liverovskaya. An interesting fact is that the woman already had 4 children from the first man and was much older than her companion. After two happy years of living together Maria Isidorovna died of cancer. A year later the scientist marries Natalia Burtseva, the niece of her wife. This marriage was much more successful, as he gave a pair of two wonderful children: Lyudmila and Yuri. In 1971 Semenov Nikolai divorced to connect life with one of his assistants. The last marriage was, like the first, childless.

Summarizing the article, we can say that the works and experiments of Nikolai Semenov have become a solid basis for further research and development of chemical science. The scientist's activity was marked by a list of awards, which he deserved with his hard work and innovative ideas.

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