Physicist, communist, politician: for what we will remember the Nobel laureate Zhores Alferov

Zhores Alferov is often called the last great Soviet scientist. In 2000 he received the Nobel Prize

in physics for developments in the fieldsemiconductor heterostructures and the creation of fast opto- and microelectronic components. Thanks to Alferov, the world received smartphones - as we know them, and the Internet, and thanks to heterostructures, everyone began to use CDs.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Alferov was aloneOf the few Russian Nobel laureates, besides him, the prize was received by Vitaly Ginzburg, as well as physicists Alexey Abrikosov and Konstantin Novoselov, who have not been engaged in scientific work in Russia for a long time.

Alferov as a physicist

A graduate of one of the oldest universities in Russia -Leningrad Electrotechnical Institute named after V.I. Ulyanov (Lenin) (LETI) - Zhores Alferov was interested in science from an early age. He graduated from school in Minsk with a gold medal, after which, at the insistence of his physics teacher, he went to the Belarusian Polytechnic Institute (BNTU), studied there for several years and realized that the level of Belarusian teachers was clearly not enough for him.

Since 1953 he worked in the Physical-TechnicalInstitute named after AF Ioffe - starting with a junior research assistant, and after almost 30 years, in 1987, he was already in charge. There, Alferov takes part in the development of the first transistor in the USSR, and studies the properties of nanostructures of reduced dimensionality: quantum wires and quantum dots.

In 1991, Zhores Alferov took the post of vice-president of the Russian Academy of Sciences - during this period he was engaged in research in the field of semiconductor heterostructures.

Leningrad. Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences Zhores Alferov at a lecture at the Physics and Electronics school, created for high school students. Photo: Yuri Belinsky/TASS

Alferov almost immediately after creationInnovation Center "Skolkovo" - in 2010 - was appointed its supervisor and co-chairman of the Advisory Scientific Council of the Foundation. Immediately after his appointment, Alferov spoke for the Skolkovo advisory council to meet not only in the center, but also in other universities, both Russian and foreign, to compare conditions with other scientific centers and increase ties.

Author of more than 500 scientific papers, three monographs and 50 inventions.

For which Zhores Alferov received the Nobel Prize

In 2000, the Nobel Prize in Physics receivedZhores Alferov and Herbert Kremer for developments in the field of high-speed transistors and lasers. These studies formed the basis of modern information compact technology. Alferov and Kremer discovered high-speed opto-and microelectronic devices based on semiconductor heterostructures: high-speed transistors, laser diodes for information transmission systems in optical fiber networks, powerful efficient light-emitting diodes that can replace future incandescent lamps.

Most appliances work on the principle ofsemiconductors, use the pn-junction formed at the boundary between the parts of the same semiconductor with different types of conductivity, created by the introduction of appropriate impurities. The heterojunction allowed the use of semiconductors of different chemical composition with different band gaps. This allowed the creation of electronic and optoelectronic devices of extremely small size - up to atomic scales.

Photo: Jonas Ekstromer / AP / TASS

Zhores Alferov created a heterojunction fromsemiconductors with close lattice periods — GaAz; and a ternary compound with a certain composition of AlGaAs. “I remember these searches well (searches for a suitable heteropair -“ High-tech ”). They reminded me of my favorite story in my youth, the story of Stefan Zweig "The feat of Magellan". When I went to Alferov in his small working room, she was all overwhelmed with rolls of graph paper, on which the tireless Jores drew diagrams from morning to evening in search of matching crystal lattices. After Zhores with the team of his staff made the first laser on the heterojunction, he told me: “Boris, I heterojunction all semiconductor microelectronics”, ”said Alferov academician Boris Zakharchenya about this period of life.

Further studies due to whichsucceeded in obtaining heterojunctions using epitaxial growth of a crystalline film of one semiconductor on the surface of another, allowed the Alferov group to miniaturize devices even further, down to nanometers. For these developments in the field of nanostructures, Zhores Alferov received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000.

Alferov - a public figure and a communist

It’s hard to imagine a figure in Russia, morethe criticizing state of modern Russian science is the reform of the Russian Academy of Sciences, low salaries for teachers, the outflow of personnel from the country and the education system, while calling themselves “a real patriot” and “representative of the great Slavic people” than Zhores Alferov. On this scale, Alferov can only be compared with Alexander Solzhenitsyn - also a Nobel laureate, who, although extremely negative about the existing state system, was still a great patriot and seemed to understand many social processes clearly deeper than people who deal with them professionally.

Zhores Alferov in the media was often called almostthe last real communist in Russia to publicly take such a position. Alferov has repeatedly said that the collapse of the USSR was “the biggest personal tragedy, and in 1991 the smile disappeared from my face forever.”

Despite the post in the State Duma - in him since 1995until his death, was engaged in the affairs of the Committee on Science and Technology, as well as the continued support of the Communist Party, Zhores Alferov remained non-partisan. He explained this by his reluctance to go into politics, and the post of deputy - the only opportunity to influence legislation in the scientific field. He opposed the reform of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the transfer of research institutes to universities according to the Western model. According to Alferov himself, the Chinese scientific model would be more suitable for Russia, where partly fundamental scientific institutions integrated with the higher education system, but immediately expanded and rejuvenated significantly.

He was one of the most ardent opponents of clericalism: He believed that theology could not be a scientific discipline, and in no case should the theory of Orthodox culture be introduced in the school — the history of religion is better. On questions of whether religion and science have some common places, he spoke about morality and high matters, but he always added that there is an important difference. The basis of religion is faith, and the basis of science is knowledge, after which he added that there is no scientific basis for religion, although often the leading priests would like someone to find them anyway.

The main problem of Russian science today is the lack of demand for scientific results by the economy and society. And only then comes insufficient funding.

Zhores Alferov

Zhores Alferov in many of his interviews comparedthe amount of high-tech electronic production in the USSR and Russia, always coming to the sad conclusion that there are no more important tasks now than the revival of these industries, lost in the 90s. Only this would allow the country to get off the oil and hydrocarbon needle.

In this case, it requires a very serious reservation. Despite all the patriotism and communism of Alferov, who supposedly automatically implies the principles of great power, he reasoned only from the standpoint of the development of science. He always said that science is international by its nature - there can be no national physics and chemistry. However, the income from it very often goes to the budget of this or that country - and the advanced countries are only those with developed developments and technologies based on their own research.

After receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics (inIn 2000, its size was about $ 1 million - “High-Tech”) decided to invest part in its own fund for supporting technology and science. He was the initiator of the establishment of the Global Energy Prize in 2002, until 2006 he headed the International Committee for its award. It is believed that the award of this award to Alferov himself in 2005 was one of the reasons for leaving him a post.