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In Memoriam (Obituaries) Archive

Henri Desportes
Sunday, September 24, 2017
Viktor Efimovich Keilin
Monday, November 24, 2014
Rob McGrath
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
John Alcorn
Thursday, September 7, 2017
Koichi Kitazawa
Friday, September 26, 2014
Jens Müller
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Edgar A. Edelsack
Friday, May 5, 2017
Werner Weber
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Carl Henning
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Alexei Abrikosov
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Hirosi Maeda
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Akira Tonomura
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
David G. Hawksworth
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
James H. Parker, Jr.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Siegfried Wolff
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Peter E. Gifford
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Olga L. Polushenko
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Milan Polák
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Carl Leonard Goodzeit
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Hans Hillman
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Marty Lubell
Monday, January 16, 2012
Mauricio (Mau) de Lima Lopes
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Nicola Sacchetti
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Antonio Barone
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Lev Petrovich Gor'kov
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Leo K. Kovalev
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Shoji Tanaka
Friday, November 11, 2011
Peter Komarek
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Alex Shikov
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Clyde Taylor
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Giovanni Volpini
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Nikolai Kopnin
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Per Dahl
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Leszek Motowidlo
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Jeffrey A. Stern
Friday, October 11, 2013
Ernst-Helmut Brandt
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Eric Gregory
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Vladimir Pan
Friday, September 20, 2013
Igot Yanson
Monday, July 25, 2011
Eddie Man-Wai Leung
Monday, August 1, 2016
Øystein Håkon Fischer
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Ray Sarwinski
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Helen T. Edwards
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
John Clem
Friday, August 2, 2013
Hisashi Kado
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Konrad H. Fischer
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Klaus Irgmaier
Friday, June 28, 2013
Gert Eilenberger
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Karl Gschneidner
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Joe Smith, Jr.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
W. James Carr Jr.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Colmar Hinnrichs
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Sergey Egorov
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Michael Tinkham
Thursday, November 4, 2010
William E. "Bill" Keller
Thursday, December 31, 2015
Kiyoshi Ysukasa
Friday, January 25, 2013
Praveen Chaudhari
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Robert John Soulen, Jr.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Kiyoshi Ysukasa
Friday, January 25, 2013
Vitaly L. Ginzburg
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Herbert Bousack
Friday, November 13, 2015
Henry Blosser
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Zdenek J. J. Stekly
Friday, April 3, 2009
Harry (Henry) Jones
Monday, August 24, 2015
Gordon Donaldson
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Masaki Suenaga
Friday, February 13, 2009
William Brownfield Fowler
Sunday, May 3, 2015
Michael Wulf
Friday, November 16, 2012
Hiromi Hirabayashi
Friday, April 11, 2008

Werner Weber

August 6, 1945 to July 3, 2014
Werner Weber at his retirement festivity (2010) © Claudia Masur
Werner Weber Remembered
October 10, 2014 (PO36).  Werner Weber, professor emeritus of theoretical physics at the Technical University of Dortmund (TUD), Germany, died suddenly and unexpectedly at his home on 3rd of July 2014.
Werner was born on 6th of August, 1945, in Bad Urach, Germany, and studied physics at the Munich Technical University, 1964-1970.  Two years later (1972) he earned his PhD on “Lattice Dynamics in Hard Materials and Transition Metals”, a broad subject absorbing him for most of his scientific career.  In August 1972 he joined Max Planck Institute of Solid State Physics in Stuttgart, Germany, where he remained until 1977. His  study of that period on "Adiabatic bond charge model for phonons in diamond, Si, Ge, and α-Sn“ (1977) has been  one of his most cited publicationsi.It appeared in print during his two-years-long research stint at Bell Laboratories, where he collaborated closely with Chandra Varma on reformulating the problem of lattice dynamics in transition metals and applying to understand the phonon anomalies discovered more than 15 years earlier by neutron scattering. They showed that the traditional views of phonon anomalies as due to nesting, (W. Kohn and A. Overhauser), needed a serious modification. The modification was the momentum-dependence introduced by local field effects. They found an easy way to include them by using moving tight binding orbitalsii.  When Werner went back to Germany, he extended this method to various transition metal compounds. All this resulted in a firm quantitative understanding of electron-phonon effects in strong-coupling superconductors.
In 1977 Werner assumed a tenured position the Research Center Karlsruhe and subsequently, in 1983, earned his “habilitation” (a DSc equivalent) at the Karlsruhe Technical University.  In mid-1980s (probably 1985-1987) he went again to Bell Labs, where, among other projects, he worked with Varma and a graduate student, Lisa Randall, on application of the Gutzwiller methods to multi-band problems, such as heavy-Fermion compoundsiiiand with L. Mattheiss and by himself on high temperature superconductivity, both widely cited studiesiv.  This was immediately after the discovery of high critical temperatures in cuprates, which exceeded theoretical expectations based on the electron-phonon interaction.  Soon thereafter, in 1989, Werner was appointed to the “Chair of Theoretical Physics II” at TUD, which he occupied until his retirement in 2010.
The overall goal of Werner’s efforts was in that period to combine the band theory with the Gutzwiller’s many particle method, which satisfactorily describes 3d and 4d electrons in transition metals.  Indeed, in 1996, he and his PhD student Joerg Buenemann, succeeded in a generalization for multiband systems.  Werner’s last work in correlations physics was to lay formal basis for the Gutzweiler theory of density functional.   His fervent hope was its further development and application.
In 2009 Werner became interested in climate change and in 2010 contributed a publication on „Strong signature of the active Sun in 100 years of terrestrial insolation data“, proposing that formation of aerosols due to cosmic radiation contributes to solar energy delivery to Earth’s surface thus decisively affecting the climatev.  This work, representing a minority point of view, was seriously debated in the climatologist community.
At TUD, Werner was an engaged faculty member, twice a Dean, and in his last years there also interim Director of the TUD Center of Synchrotron Radiation (DELTA), a research and training facility.   After his retirement he remained very involved, especially in shaping and promoting a new TUD Bachelor and Master study in medical physics.  This was prompted in part by his participation in a successful industrial venture (Cryoelectra) developing and manufacturing critical components for superconducting synchrotron accelerator systems designed for clinical proton therapy of cancer.
His colleagues and collaborators remember him as warm hearted person and a scientist never satisfied by standard answers while striving at uncovering the real correlations.  He was a great mentor, wonderful colleague and friend.  We’ll all miss him.

Florian Gebhard, Frithjof Anders, Jörg Fink, Ulrich Eckern, Roser Valenti at TUD, Chandra Varma at UC Riverside, USA, and Alex Braginski at Research Center Juelich, Germany

iW. Weber,  Phys. Rev. B , 15, 4789 (1977). 
iiC.M. Varma and W. Weber, Phys. Rev. B, 19, 6142 (1979).
iiiC.M. Varma, W. Weber and L.J. Randall, Phys. Rev. B, 33, 1015 (1986).
ivW. WeberPhys. Rev. Lett. 58, 1371 (1987).
W. Weber, Ann. Phys. 552,6, 372-381 (2010).

Hirosi Maeda

January 1, 1936 to May 24, 2014
Hiroshi Maeda, (Early 1990's)
June 12, 2014 (PO30).  Dr. Hiroshi Maeda, the discoverer of Bi-Sr-Ca-Cu-O high-Tc superconducting cuprate compounds, passed away on May 24, 2014, at the age of 78.  His contribution to applied superconductivity community is enormous. Especially, his discovery of Bi2Sr2Ca2Cu3Ox (Bi-2223) and Bi2Sr2CaCu2Oy (Bi-2212) opened the door to many high-temperature superconducting (HTS) applications, such as transmission cables, motors, high field magnets, and so on.
He was born in Fukui, Japan (1936). After finishing a B.S. in 1958 at the Department of Physics, Kanazawa University, he joined the National Research Institute for Metals (now NIMS) and started his research on magnetic materials. His major research achievement in this field was the development of high performance thin films for magnetic disks. He received a doctorate in science from Hiroshima University in 1971. His first involvement in superconducting and cryogenic technology was his research on magnetic refrigeration materiasl and systems, beginning in 1981. In 1985, he was promoted to group leader of the Superconducting and Cryogenic Materials Research Group and began research on superconducting materials. 
The discovery of HTS oxide stimulated his own research as a material scientist and he started exploring new HTS compounds, which he has been synthesizing by himself. By the end of 1987 he succeeded in synthesizing Bi-Sr-Ca-Cu-O and found superconductivity at 105 K. His article reporting on this new HTS family was published at the beginning of 1988. Since then many researchers worldwide followed his path pursued both fundamental and application studies of these and similar compounds. 
His discovery of Bi-cuprates high-Tc was honored with many prizes, such as the Tsukuba Prize (1989), Matthias Prize (1991), and other. In 1993, the Tsukuba Magnet Laboratory (TML) was founded as a part of NIMS and he became TML’s director. In the same year, he assumed the additional position of a professor at the Graduate School of Pure and Applied Science, University of Tsukuba (operated jointly by NIMS and University of Tsukuba).  
After retiring from NIMS in 1996, he continued his research and educational work as a professor at the Institute for Materials Research, Tohoku University (1996–99) and Kitami Institute of Technology (1999–2002). He also made a stint at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Tallahassee, USA (2001–03).
He contributed to applied superconductivity community activities also by serving as a Board Member of the International Cryogenic Materials Conference and the Cryogenics and Superconductivity Society of Japan.
His private passion was tennis and he was, indeed, a very good player.  He could be found on a tennis court most every weekend.
One day in 1983, he played tennis with the Japanese crown prince family when they visited Tsukuba. He then paired with the princess Michiko (the present empress).

James H. Parker, Jr.

December 4, 1926 to April 15, 2014
James H. Parker, Jr. (recent photo)
James H. Parker, Jr. Passed Away at 87
June 6, 2014 (PO29).  James (Jim) H. Parker, Jr., was born in Bakersfield, California, USA, on December 4, 1926 and passed away on April 15, 2014.  He received a B.S. and Ph.D. in Physics at the University of California, Berkeley in 1949 and 1954 respectively.  He was a member of staff at the Westinghouse Research Labs (later R&D Center) in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, from 1953 until retirement in 1985.  Up to 1970, he carried out experimental and theoretical work over a broad range of physics problems ranging from the motion of electrons in gases, color centers in alkali halides, Raman scattering from metals and semiconductors and nonlinear properties of crystals using optical techniques. In particular, Jim was a pioneer in the use of the recently developed laser for Raman spectroscopy, first with He-neon lasers and later with argon ion lasers.  He was the first to use this technique for the study of lattice vibrational modes in semiconductors and metals, including localized vibrational modes in Si-Ge alloys.  Because commercial ion lasers were not available at the time (1960s), he became expert in developing technologies of new fabrication techniques for such lasers.  In that decade became one of six directors of the R&D center, each responsible for a broader area of research and development.
In 1970, Jim was given special assignment to manage the Cryogenics and Superconductivity Department. This group worked on superconducting materials, theory and experimental work on ac losses of Superconductors and large-scale applications of superconductivity.  The emphasis was on the development of ac generators with low-temperature superconducting field winding for military and power systems applications.  This was a worldwide pioneering work, cooperative with the Westighouse Electro-Mechanical Division (EMD), which also provided a staff of engineers for the design, development and testing of the electrical machinery   This combined effort was crowned with the first successful demonstration of a 60 Hz 5MW alternator for electric utilities and a high-speed, four-pole 5 MV, 400 Hz Generator for the US Air Force.
See RN26 for details on these and other achievements of Jim’s Department, which was then among the world leaders in industrial research into superconductivity, fundamental and applied.  four of us (RB, AB, GW and MW) had the privilege to have Jim as our supervisor during good parts of our Westinghouse careers and we remember him most fondly as a kind, insightful, helpful and friendly boss.  Two of us (DF and JM) collaborated with him and have equally fond memories.
After retirement from Westinghouse in 1985, Jim continued his engineering work as a private contractor for Westinghouse and several other local companies. Here his work ranged from developing simulation programs for linear motors and rail guns, the electrical design of high speed alternators with high temperature superconducting windings, calculation of Hall current losses for composite Al conductors at 20 K and calculation of the end turn forces in SSC dipole magnets. Such work he continued almost until his death.  Jim has authored or co authored about 50 journal and conference papers.  He was Fellow of the American Physical Society and Life Member of IEEE. 
In his private life, Jim was a music lover.  He played bassoon for the Pittsburgh Savoyards and was also a long-standing member of the Pittsburgh Woodwind Quintet. He loved jazz and classical music, physics, electronics, woodworking, and metal working.  In 2009 he lost his beloved wife Cathy, and this was for him an especially hard event.  They were both staunch supporters of local charities, including, for example, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. They left behind two children, Lynn and David, and two grandchildren.
Richard Blaugher, Alex Braginski, Don Feldman, John Mole, David Parker, George Wagner and Michael Walker.

Olga L. Polushenko

October 8, 1942 to March 4, 2014
Young Olga L. Poluschenko (about 1974)
Olga L. Polushenko, 1942 – 2014
June 30, 2014 (PO32).  Olga Leonidowna Polushenko was born on October 8th, 1942 in the Voronesh region and passed away after a severe illness on March 4th, 2014.  She graduated from the famous Moscow State Technical University (named after N.E. Bauman, Russian acronym MGTU), in 1965 and earned her Ph.D. degree (Russian “candidate of sciences”) in 1973 for a study on hot pressing of ferrites, also from MGTU.  While her early research was in powder metallurgy of electronic and magnetic materials, she became deeply involved in R&D of superconducting materials since the advent of high-Tcsuperconducting (HTS) cuprates in 1986. Olga remained at MGTU and became there a “docent” (equivalent to Associate Professor) combining teaching and research activities. 
Over the past 28 years, her interest concentrated on bulk HTS technology, suitable for fabrication of high-strength cryogenic magnets.  The excellent properties of her bulk materials enabled the construction of first Russian HTS superconducting motors with excellent characteristics.  Recently, she made a major contribution to the development of superconducting bearings for the kinetic energy storage (under a “Rosatom” program).
Olga authored over 40 scientific publications and had 6 Russian patents to her credit.  Her friends remember her not only as a scientist and “a patriot of Russian superconductivity”, but also as a remarkable and wonderful person.  Many remember her also as an excellent culinary chef, especially remembered by her unforgettable tort cakes.  She’ll remain in the hearts of her many collaborators and friends.  Olga didn’t leave behind any family.
(Written by SNF based in part on an obituary in Russian published by N. Nizhel’skiy for friends of Olga Poluschenko in the online Superconductors in Electric Power Industry published by the Moscow Kurchatov Institute, a Russian National Research Center, and

Hans Hillman

February 15, 1922 to February 6, 2014
Hans Hillmann, 2008
Hans HIllmann Remembered
September 10, 2014 (PO35).  Hans Hillmann, a prominent superconducting materials scientist and consummate artist, passed away on February 6, 2014, at almost 92.  He was born on February 15, 1922 in Ronneburg, Thuringia, Germany.  Shortly after WW II, he started his career initially as a teacher of art, mathematics and physics (1946-1956), while nearly simultaneously studying physics as an extern at the Technical University of Dresden, Saxony, Germany (1952-1957).  Upon graduating with a diploma, he became there a Scientific Assistant at the Institute for X-Ray Science and Metal Physics.  
In 1959 Hans successfully moved from East Germany to the West and immediately got hired by Vacuumschmelze GmbH (VAC) in Hanau, West Germany, to work in their R&D laboratory.VAC was then a prominent manufacturer of high quality specialty metals and alloys, especially soft magnetic alloys. Shortly thereafter, in 1961, Gene Kunzler of Bell Labs demonstrated high critical current at 8 tesla in Nb3Sn and the first worldwide “gold rush” into fabricating superconducting wires of more ductile alloys began, first of NbZr soon superseded by NbTi. Naturally, Vacuumschmelze joined the fray and so Hans got involved into superconductivity of materials and conductors, over the years making and publishing multiple important contributions to the science and technology of NbZr, NbTi and Nb3Sn.  He worked on these over the rest of his scientific career.  Nevertheless, the breadth of his interest and the experience with difficult to process NbZr led Hans to contribute also in other areas.  
As an example can serve - developed by him - the first nonmagnetic watch springs with temperature-independent E modulus, which found application in expensive mechanical watches.  Soon after, the technology of such springs fell in oblivion due to the rapid spread of quartz watches.  Only decades later, with Hans long retired, very expensive mechanical watches had their renaissance and Swiss manufacturers were desperate to find a source of appropriate springs.  Hans was the only remaining repository of spring know-how.  He faced the challenge, jumped into action and reconstituted the technology.  Today, a very expensive Swiss watch is likely to contain a spring „Made by Hans Hillmann“.
In 1974 he defended his doctoral dissertation on "Micro-Structural Principles of Flux Pinning in NbTi" with Prof. W. Buckel as advisor at the Technical University of Karlsruhe, and in the same year was awarded the prestigious Tammann Medal by the German Metallurgy Society.  That award was for his pioneering work in the field of hard (Type II) superconductors.  Hans retired in 1988, but continued publishing and consulting while simultaneously pursuing his artistic activities as painter and exhibitor at art galleries and museums.
Most remarkable was Hans’s gift to be able to see any problem as a whole with all its ramifications and extrapolations into the future.  He participated in many European projects and toward the end of his career he was responsible for all the superconducting R&D activity at VAC.  During the more than 26 years of his work in this area, his main focus - next to performing basic research on high-current and high-field superconductor technology - was to transform laboratory results into technically usable NbTi and Nb3Sn commercial products. He contributed largely to the early stages of industrial manufacturing of superconductors at VAC.  Particularly vital was his insistence on understanding technical superconductors in the complex nanostructured forms in which they had to be used.  He was a delightful colleague, not at all narrow-minded in any commercial sense, because he always seemed motivated by the belief that better superconductors would increase the market for all.  This spirit certainly made VAC one of the leading companies worldwide, a situation still true today decades after his retirement when it is now owned by Bruker EAS, but still at Hanau, Germany.
Hans’s art gene was nurtured by his early professional activity of math, physics and art teacher, as documented by his exceptional drawings and sketches of experimental equipment.  The esthetics of mathematics and superconductor physics was visualized in his multiple paintings inspired by images of physical effects.
Hans has been an exceptional personality in the superconductivity community.  To have him among us was a special gift. We’ll cherish his memory.
Colleagues and friends at Bruker, David Larbalestier at NHMFL and Alex Braginski at Research Center Juelich

Nicola Sacchetti

April 5, 1936 to February 1, 2014
Nicola Sacchetti (recent photo)
Nicola Sacchetti, 1936 - 2014
June 24, 2014 (PO31).  Nicola Sacchetti was born in Florence (Italy) on April 5th, 1936 and died in Frascati (Italy) on the 1st of February 2014.  He will be remembered as one of the pioneers in applied superconductivity, not only in Italy and Europe, but also in the U.S. and Japan.  His ability in communicating knowledge and enthusiasm to young researchers made him one of the best teachers one could have met.
Born in Florence in 1936, he graduated in Physics at Genoa University in 1960.  In 1962, soon after the completion of his master thesis, he joined the Magnet Group of the Frascati National Laboratory in Frascati, coordinated at that time by the Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics, INFN. 
His initial scientific activity, until 1970, was already devoted to physics of superconductivity, specifically the tunneling effect. He was among the first to develop tunnel junctions in Italy.  Independently of it created a prototype installation for the production of Nb3Sn tape conductor based on liquid tin diffusion.  In the same years he became involved in the completion of several superconducting magnets, among which the Nb3Sn solenoid able to produce the magnetic field of 11T in a volume then large enough for experimental purposes.  In the following years, Nicola also started efforts to ignite interest in applied superconductivity at Italian industries such as Ansaldo and LMI.
In 1976 Nicola was appointed Director of Superconductivity Laboratory in the Fusion Department of CNEN (now ENEA) - in the frame of the EURATOM Association - and exerted that function until 1989.   In this period he proposed the construction of the test facility SULTAN, to be built in collaboration with SIN (now Paul Scherrer Institute, PSI) at Villigen, Switzerland.  This important step was the starting point of his and the ENEA Superconductivity Lab’s close and fruitful collaboration with Italian industries in the realization of large scale projects in the field of applied superconductivity.  That brought these industries into deep involvement in the construction of important international experimental operations such as the LHC accelerator system and currently the fusion demonstrator ITER.
In 1974 Nicola became member of the CERN Machine Advisory Committee for S.P.S.  In 1976 he became deputy member of the Advisory Group of Fusion Technology of Euratom, which had a role in the approval of the Tore-Supra tokamak project realized in Cadarache, France.  In 1994 was appointed as Scientific Advisor for the Fusion Department in ENEA.  In 1995 was appointed by MURTS (Italian Department for University, Research and Education) as consultant for the evaluation of large scientific projects in the field of cryogenics and applied superconductivity (such as ICARUS and a prototype model of ATLAS).  He also contributed to the applied superconductivity community as member of International Organizing Committee of the MT conference.
Nicola had a strong passion for watercolor painting and some of his fine pictures are adorning the houses of most of his colleagues.


Leo K. Kovalev

January 1, 1942 to January 28, 2014
Leo K. Kovalev (December 2012)

Leo K. Kovalev, 1941 - 2014, Remembered

February 7, 2014 (PO26). On January 28, 2014, Prof. Leo K. Kovalev suddenly passed away in Moscow from a myocardial infarction at the age of 72. To the superconducting electro-machinery community, Leo K. Kovalev was well known worldwide through his work on electric machines with HTS bulk elements, comprising hysteresis motors, reluctance motors and motors utilizing permanent magnets. He also paid great attention to HTS-magnetic-suspension systems for high-speed rail-borne transportation and flywheels.

In 1964, he started his professional career at the Central Institute of Aircraft Engines, Moscow, after graduating from Moscow State Technical University Named After N. E. Bauman. A few years later he joined the Department of Electric Machines, the Dept. 310, of the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI), headed by Prof. Albert I. Bertinov. During that time he pursued research in the field of MHD (magneto-hydrodynamic) energy conversion, and in 1972 he finished his Science Candidate (doctoral) dissertation on MHD generators. For the following ten years his research activity shifted to ionosphere radio physics, hydrodynamics and radio waves propagation at the Scientific Research Institute of Long-Haul Radio. During 1980-1982 he was the Deputy General Constructor of that institute. In 1982 he returned to the Dept.310 of MAI, headed at that time by Prof. Dmitry A. But, and continued research on MHD problems and in parallel extended his interest to low-temperature superconducting electric machines. When In 1986, when high-temperature superconductivity (HTS) was discovered, Leo concentrated his research on HTS electric machines and developed several series of cryogenic electric machines utilizing bulk HTS elements, operating at liquid nitrogen temperatures. He is the author of four books and more than 200 scientific and technical papers. In 1996 he attained his D.Sc. (habilitation equivalent) degree and became a Professor. Since 2002 he headed Dept. 310 of MAI, and in that same year he was awarded the State Prize of Russian Government in the field of Science and Technology. He initiated “The Centre of Superconducting Electric Machines and Devices” at MAI. Leo was an enthusiastic specialist in electromechanics, applied superconductivity, hydrodynamics and radio physics. He liked to first identify new scientific problems and then to solve them.

He actively took part in the international development of superconducting electric machines and was one of the initiators of the German-Russian cooperation, leading to the design and development of superconducting electric motors with liquid nitrogen cooling. The consortium comprised: Oswald Elektromotoren GmbH (Miltenberg), Stuttgart Technical University, IPHT (Jena), IFW (Dresden), Moscow Aviation Institute, A.A. Bochvar All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Inorganic Materials (Moscow), All-Russian Electrotechnical Institute (Moscow), and the Institute for Solid State Physics (Chernogolovka, Moscow region).

Prof. Leo K. Kovalev was an Academician of the Russian Academy of Electrotechnical Sciences, an Honored Scientist of Russian Federation (RF), and an advisory council member of Highest Certifying Commission (RF).

Besides his research activities, Leo K. Kovalev was a true intellectual and a real friend for all his partners. Everyone who visited his Moscow home or countryside residence was surrounded with hospitality and warmth. He possessed a rare gift of charming his interlocutor from the very first words of communication.  He left behind his dear wife Tatiana and a son, who like all of us will miss him very much.

Vladimir T. Penkin and Konstantin L. Kovalev

Alex Shikov

January 1, 1948 to October 26, 2013
Alexander Shikov (recent photo)

Alex Shikov Unexpectedly Passed Away

October 30, 2013 (PO22).  Professor Alex Shikov unexpectedly passed away on October 26, 2013.  Alexander Konstantinovich Shikov was born in Norilsk (then USSR) in 1948.  He graduated from the Moscow Steel and Alloys Institute in 1971 and started his scientific career as a junior research associate at the Bochvar Institute of Inorganic Materials, also in 1971. He received his D.Sc. (Habilitation) degree in 1991.  Since 1998, Dr. Shikov served as the deputy director of Bochvar Institute, and from March to August 2009 as its Head.  He was then appointed as the Executive Director of Kurchatov Institute's center for Nano-Bio-Info-Cognitive (NBIC) Science and Technology.  Memorial ceremonies were held on October 30, 2013, in Kurchatov Culture Center.

Shikov made an outstanding contribution to restoration of production of superconducting materials after the collapse of Soviet Union.  Due to his scientific and management talents, Russian conductors for ITER are today competitive or even exceed the highest performance requirements. While at Kurchatov Institute, he directed research into superconducting materials for ITER and initiated production of HTS materials.  Prof. Shikov was an author of three monographs, 250 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals and 60 patents. He held a Chair of the Applied Superconductivity division in the Moscow Institute of Engineering Physics (Moscow’s outstanding Technical University).

Prof. Shikov was awarded several State Prizes in the field of science and engineering, an award of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the gold and silver medals of the International Exhibition of Inventions. He was a member of the Academy of Electro-technical Sciences of the Russian Federation.  He also received an International Cryogenic Materials Conference Best Paper Award at the meeting in Tucson, Arizona in July 2009.

The memory about this outstanding man will be carried not only by his conductors with non-decaying currents and will last.  All who knew him will remember his energy, motivation, optimism and achievements.

(Obituary based in part on that published in the Russian website “Superconductors in Power Industry”; see Superconductors in Power Industry, in Russian. Readers in Russian can find there some additional reading on and by Shikov.)


Nikolai Kopnin

January 1, 1946 to October 20, 2013
Nikolai B. Kopnin (Photo October 16, 2013 in Rome)

Nikolai Kopnin, Low-temperature Physicist

January 2, 2014 (PO25). Our friend and colleague Professor Nikolai Borisovich Kopnin passed away on October 20, 2013, during a lecturing trip to Rome. He was 67 years old.

Nikolai Kopnin had been a frequent visitor at the Aalto Low Temperature Laboratory1 for several years until in 2000 he became a member of the staff.  His early collaboration with the Laboratory was on the dynamics of quantized vortices in helium-3 superfluids.  Lately, his studies contributed extensively to the development of superconducting nanoelectronics, the new backbone of the Laboratory's research.

Nikolai received his physics education in Moscow. In 1973 he defended his PhD thesis on vortices in Type II superconductors under the supervision of Academician Lev P. Gor’kov in the Landau Institute of Theoretical Physics. He remained a researcher of the Landau Institute, and in 1984 he received his higher doctoral degree.  In 2011, he was awarded the International Francis Simon Prize (together with his Landau colleague, S.V. Iordanskii).  The Prize was for his work on forces acting on quantum vortices in superfluids and superconductors. One of these forces is now known as the "Kopnin force".

The main area of Nikolai Kopnin's research was superconductivity, primarily its non-equilibrium and non-stationary phenomena. His research work has been highly recognized and he was one of the leading experts in this field worldwide, as shown by the citations of his monograph “Nonequilibrium superconductivity" (Oxford University Press, 2001).  He has contributed to the studies of anisotropic and layered superconductors, developed the microscopic theories for dissipative and non-stationary flow in Fermi superfluids, in particular in superfluid 3He, worked on new mechanisms for the formation of topological defects during rapid quench-cooled phase transitions, which has applications in cosmology, and he constructed theories of superfluid quantum turbulence.  During more recent years he investigated the physics of mesoscopic structures and devices, including graphene.  He published more than 150 highly cited articles in leading international journals.

Already in 1991, by extending his theory of the "Kopnin force" to chiral superfluids Nikolai predicted the existence of fermionic bound states, which have exactly zero energy. Today these quasiparticles are known as Majorana fermions - objects, which are still elusive in particle physics but may be observable in topological superfluids and superconductors.  The bound states in chiral superfluids found by him have in addition the remarkable property that their spectrum is dispersionless.  Now such flat bands are intensively searched for in solid-state materials.  According to Nikolai’s recent work, the singular density of states in materials with a flat band may open the route to superconductivity at room temperature.

Nikolai Kopnin was a modest person who was always fair and considerate to his colleagues and friends, and they considered him a noble man with a strong passion for science.  He was a person whom one could always trust and who dedicated and committed himself fully to his research activity.  His free time Nikolai devoted to his family and enjoyed interesting hikes and journeys to wilderness. Those who were fortunate to be friends with Nikolai know that there is nothing better to look for. 

Nikolai was always caring and loyal, with warm human spirits and intelligent sense of humor.

Matti Krusius, Jukka Pekola and Grigori Volovik

1Aalto University, School of Science, FI-00076 Aalto, Finland.

Jeffrey A. Stern

September 16, 1961 to October 11, 2013

Jeffrey A. Stern Passed Away

October 11, 2013 (PO27).  Dr. Jeffrey A. Stern was born on September 16, 1961, and passed away on October 11, 2013, at the age of 52, after a year-long battle with cancer.  

Jeff received his B.S. physics degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1983 and his Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology in 1991. He spent his entire career at the Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. During his tenure at JPL, he made significant contributions to the development of superconducting sensors. He fabricated, tested, and space-qualified superconductor–insulator–superconductor (SIS) mixer chips, an enabling technology for band 5 (1140–1250 GHz) of the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI) on the Herschel Space Observatory. HIFI band 5 included some key spectral lines that have had a major impact on understanding of the interstellar medium (ISM) and astrochemistry. Possibly the most important is the ground state transition of hydrogen fluoride (HF). A large number of Herschel studies confirm that essentially all flourine in the diffuse ISM is in the form of hydrogen fluoride, HF. Consequently, this 1232 GHz transition, measured using band 5, can be an accurate tracer of the total column density of clouds. HF has been exploited in studies of the Milky Way and is now being used in observations of external galaxies. Also, Band 5 enabled detection of new species critical for understanding the production of water in the ISM such as H2O+, and made major contributions to unraveling the ortho-to-para ratio of the water molecule, giving strong indications about the conditions for the formation of water in space.

After delivering HIFI band 5 mixers, Jeff pioneered the use of phonon-cooled niobium nitride (NbN) mixers and fabrication of THz waveguide components using lithographic techniques. These technologies enabled new instrument concepts proposed for NASA's sub-orbital programs and follow-on space missions after HIFI. Concurrently with the THz mixer development, Jeff began work on new detectors for optical communications. Jeff was the first person in the US (2004) to make a functional superconducting nanowire single photon detector (SNSPD); the first person to fabricate a functional SNSPD in NbTiN (2006) and the first to fabricate arrays (4 to 16 pixels, 2005-2007). From 2012-2013, Jeff designed and fabricated fiber optic coupled SNSPDs from tungsten silicide (WSi) with the highest efficiency demonstrated to date (93%), 12-pixels arrays used in 2012 to establish an optical communications link with the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft orbiting the moon. His last accomplishment was a 64-pixel free space coupled SNSPD with an active area over 100 times greater than other state-of-the-art devices designed to be mounted on large telescope such as the 5 m Hale telescope at Palomar in California that can be used for optical communication with spacecraft around other planets, for observing ultrafast astrophysical events and for experimentally measuring quantum mechanical effects over large distances.  Jeff Stern's innovations and technology leadership have led to a world-leading team at NASA developing optical detectors for space applications with near perfect efficiency, near zero noise, and high (sub-nanosecond) photon arrival timing resolution.

Outside of his profession, Jeff Stern was an avid participant in outdoor activities, including skiing, hiking, camping, rock climbing, swimming, scuba diving.  He loved to cook and was a self-professed "foodie" who delighted in locating and trying new restaurants.  He was also an avid gamer right up until the time he passed.  Jeff was devoted to his family and is survived by Allison, his wife of 23 years, and his son Noah (19) and daughter Maddy (16).