Landau, Lev

Landau, Lev [Ландау, Лев], b 22 January 1908 in Baku, Azerbaidzhan, d 1 April 1968 in Moscow. One of the leading theoretical physicists of the 20th century; full member of the USSR Academy of Sciences from 1946. A graduate of Leningrad University (1927), he studied at Niels Bohr’s Institute for Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen, headed the theoretical physics department at the Ukrainian Physical-Technical Institute in Kharkiv (1932–7), and held the chair of general physics at Kharkiv University (1935–7). In its time, Landau’s school of theoretical physics in Kharkiv was the center of Soviet physics research. In 1937 Landau moved to Moscow to head the theoretical physics department at the USSR Institute for Physics Problems. Notwithstanding his prominence, in 1938–9, during the Yezhov terror, Landau was imprisoned. Subsequently he taught at Moscow University (1943–7, 1955–68). Landau made important contributions to almost every area of physics. While in Kharkiv, he developed the theories of diamagnetism and antiferromagnetism; provided theoretical explanations of the domain structure of ferromagnets, ferromagnetic resonance, and photoelectric effects in semiconductors (with Yevhen Lifshyts); and did pioneering work on the kinetics of electron plasma. Among his later contributions, his theory of superfluidity, for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1962, and his theory of superconductivity deserve to be singled out.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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