Synelnykov, Kyrylo

Synelnykov, Kyrylo or Sinelnikov, Kirill [Синельников, Кирило; Synel'nykov], b 29 May 1901 in Pavlohrad, Katerynoslav gubernia, d 16 October 1966 in Kharkiv. Experimental physicist; full member of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR from 1948. A graduate (1923) of the Crimean University in Simferopol, where he was a student of Abram Yoffe, he worked under Yoffe in the Leningrad Physical-Technical Institute (1924–8) and under Sir E. Rutherford in Cambridge, England (1928–30). In 1930 he joined the Ukrainian Physical-Technical Institute (from 1938 the Physical-Technical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR) in Kharkiv and rapidly became one of its moving forces, particularly in the development and construction of nuclear-particle accelerators. In 1932, using accelerated protons, Synelnykov, Georgii Latyshev, Aleksandr Leipunsky, and Anton Walter became the first in the USSR to accomplish the transmutation of one stable nucleus (lithium) into another (helium), only a few months after the first-ever artificial nuclear transmutation was achieved by J. Cockcroft and E. Walton in Cambridge. Synelnykov rapidly became an unrivaled specialist in accelerator design and in associated vacuum technology. In 1937 he and Walter built a 2.5-MeV electrostatic particle accelerator; at the time it was the most powerful in Europe. Subsequently he was instrumental in the development and construction of a number of other linear accelerators.

In 1944 he became director of the Physical-Technical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, but he continued his active involvement in nuclear research and materials science and made major contributions to the application of vacuum technology in the creation of new materials and to the purification of metals by vacuum distillation (vacuum metallurgy). Under his leadership the Physical-Technical Institute became heavily involved in controlled thermonuclear-fusion research and rapidly grew into a leading research center in plasma confinement and heating. One of its plasma confinement devices is called the Synelnykov trap. Since 1974 the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR has awarded the Synelnykov Prize for exceptional accomplishments in physics research.

Olexa Bilaniuk

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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