History of the O. Ya. Usikov Institute for Radiophysics and Electronics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

In pursuance of Decision No. 1161-133Х of September 22, 1955 by the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR,  the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR decided (protocol No.70, §968) on September 30, 1955 to establish the Institute of Radiophysics and Electronics (IRE) of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR in Kharkov. This date is regarded the day of birth of the first Ukrainian specialized institute of radio physical profile, a new chapter in the Ukrainian radio physics. A.Ya. Usikov (in 1964 he was elected an academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR) was appointed an organizer and the first director of the Institute.

The Institute made its start from the departments of electromagnetic oscillations and radio wave propagation of the Ukrainian Institute of Physics and Technology of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR. The prime objective was the practical development of a broad region of electromagnetic spectrum of the millimeter and submillimeter waves. At that moment, the Institute had 125 employees of the state budget and 11 employees of economic contracts.

Since its establishment, the Institute has become a widely reputed scientific centre setting new standards for domestic and international achievements in radio physics, electronics, radio-physical research of solid and biological objects, radio wave propagation, remote sensing of the Earth’s natural environment from aerospace craft.

The truly international rank of the Institute is a reward for the talents and skills united in the Institute under the leadership of the outstanding scientists P.V. Bliokh, S.Ya. Braude, А.А. Galkin, V.P. German, N.S Zinchenko, А.I. Kalmykov, E.А. Kaner, G.Ya. Levin, I.Ye. Ostrovskiy, S.А. Peskovatskiy, V.G. Sologub, I.D. Truten’, I.S. Turgenev, А.Ya. Usikov, V.P. Shestopalov, to name just a few. Owing to their intellectual potential, enthusiasm, efficient scientific and technical management, harmonious groups of followers and strong teams of professionals were developed to get priority academic knowledge with its practical applications in various areas of modern radio physics and electronics, among which are:

  • pulse magnetrons with a specific operating mode named “Kharkov mode”, CW magnetrons, klinotrons, reflex klystrons, with the wave range 2 cm to 0.5 mm covered;
  • a new class of coherent millimeter and submillimeter sources – pulse and CW diffraction radiation oscillators with a unique set of parameters in terms of high power, high stability, narrow spectrum and low-level noise;
  • highly efficient optical light sources – dye lasers with tunable-frequency forced emission;
  • computationally efficient and mathematically correct solution techniques for the electromagnetic wave diffraction by various-geometry periodic and open structures; highly efficient methods of analysis and multiparametric synthesis for complex waveguide components and units;
  • a new scientific direction – quasi-optical radiometry – was developed, with a set of unique broadband 0.1 – 10 mm radio devices introduced for measuring physical parameters of substances, including plasma;
  • high-stability solid-state quasi-optical oscillators with low frequency noise performed along with solid-state quantum paramagnetic amplifiers (masers);
  • the theory of plasma instabilities occurring under the action of constant and alternating electromagnetic fields was developed as applied to homogeneous, periodic layered, magnetic and other type semiconductors;
  • the processes of coherent phonon generation going in active paramagnetic crystals were experimentally studied to reveal the monochromatic phonon laser-type radiation and make a quantum oscillator of coherent phonons — “Faser”, the acoustic laser analog;
  • the unique experimental research complex «BURAN» for studying nonlinear processes in nuclear systems by the electron spin resonance and nuclear paramagnetic resonance methods was made and received the status of National Property of Ukraine;
  • hypersonic delay lines for solving problems of the remote sensing of the Earth’s natural environment from aerospace craft;
  • most essential biopolimers – proteins and nucleic acids – were investigated for the nature of their structure stability under the action of hydrated ionic environment, different temperatures and mm-wave and ionizing irradiation;
  • broad-scale comprehensive theoretical and experimental research of propagation processes of different-range radio waves over the land and sea was performed, the new subdiscipline in radio physics – radio oceanography – was set up, a radio-climatic World Ocean Atlas was suggested;
  • a two-scale model of radio wave scattering by a rough sea surface was developed and has already become a classical one;
  • unique methods and equipment for over-the-horizon radar over the sea were elaborated;
  • an approach to the treatment of the Schumann resonance as a global parameter of planetary thunderstorm activity was suggested;
  • analog and digital methods and algorithms of astronomical image processing were devised;
  • explorations of the Earth’s natural environment by radar remote sensing from aerospace craft were performed; a radio physical complex was made as part of space-based side-looking radar and of a scanning radiometer; the complex was installed aboard the artificial Earth satellites “Kosmos-1500” and “Kosmos-1602”, then commercially implemented aboard the artificial «Okean»-class satellites and the Ukrainian satellites «Sich-1» and «Sich-2»;
  • new radar methods were developed in terms of broadband (noise) and fundamentally new superbroadband (video pulsed) signal types;
  • wide-purpose millimeter and decameter radar systems were developed in response to the defense and conversion issues of the day: current-time surveillance of airport territories, monitoring the movement of particular vehicles and transport flows in the frontier areas; all-weather protection of any territory perimeters against unauthorized intrusion, detection of objects hidden on the human body, finding people alive under the rubble, etc.;
  • subsurface sounding radar (for searching underground communications, cavities, ravines, oil spills, for monitoring integrity and migration of oil and gas pipelines, for finding saps, etc.), all-weather radar for monitoring the state of buildings and engineering structures, collision avoidance radar for highway vehicles.

A few physical effects and phenomena originally observed within the precincts of the Institute were recognized discoveries and entered The State Register of the USSR. These are: the cyclotron resonance in metals (1967, No. 45, one of the authors E.A. Kaner was a fellow of the Institute), the anomalous electromagnetic penetration into a metal and radio frequency effects (1970, No. 80, the co-author E.A. Kaner was a fellow of the Institute), the acoustomagnetoelectric effect (1973, No. 133, the co-authors A.P. Korolyuk and V.F. Roy were fellows of the Institute).

In 1971, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet awarded the Institute the Order of the Red Banner of Labor for achievements in radio physics and electronics.

The considerable progress of the astronomical research provided that the relevant departments of the Institute were separated and reorganized into the Radio Astronomical Institute of the NAS of Ukraine in 1985.

The development of remote sensing methods and radio systems with unique parameters, their employment on artificial Earth satellites, the scientific authority and the international acknowledgement of the results in the field provided that the A.I. Kalmykov Center for Radio Physical Earth Sensing of the National Cosmic Agency of Ukraine and the NAS of Ukraine was founded on the basis of the Institute in 1994 and worked till 2011.

The scientific results of the Institute were honored by the Lenin Prize, three State Prizes of the USSR for science and technology, the USSR Council of Ministers Prize, eight State Prizes of the Ukrainian SSR for science and technology in 1986 and four State Prizes of the Ukrainian SSR for science and technology in 1987, two K.D. Sinel’nikov’s prizes from the NAS of Ukraine, the V.Ye. Lashkarev’s, S.Ya. Braude’s, A.S. Davydov’s, N.N. Bogolyubov’s, I. Pulyuy’s prizes from the NAS of Ukraine, the Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTT-S) prize in the nomination Microwave Pioneer Award – 2000.

The academic achievements of the young scientists of the Institute won numerous prizes: the LKSM prizes, the prizes from the Kharkov Regional Committee of the LKSM of Ukraine, the grants from the President of Ukraine for gifted young people, the three grants for the support of scientific investigations by young scientists, the two yearly prizes for young scientists from the President of Ukraine, the prize from the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine for special achievements of young professionals for progress in Ukraine, the IEEE Clementina Saduwa Award for achievements of women in engineering.

Since the Institute foundation, scientific schools on hot problems in modern radio physics and electronics have been consolidated, among which are:

  • V.P. Shestopalov’s school of diffraction theory and diffraction electronics,
  • A.Ya. Usikov’s school of electronics and scientific instrument making,
  • S.Ya. Braude’s school of radio-wave propagation and remote sensing,
  • V.L. German’s school of theoretic radio physics,
  • V.Ya. Maleev’s school of biophysics.

The works performed by Institute scientists are widely known overseas. The Institute actively collaborates with scientific organizations and funds, enters contracts with foreign institutions, participates in the projects RP-7, STCU, INTAS, CRDF, NATO, to name just a few.

From 1974 to 2001 in the Special Design and Technology Bureau within the precincts of the Institute, the direct translation of the domestic research and development into the manufacture was possible, as was the small-scale making of conventional elements, components and devices.

Scientific products of the Institute are permanently displayed at the Ukrainian and International exhibitions.

A.Ya. Usikov the academician of the AS of the Ukrainian SSR was the first director of the Institute and remained in this position from 1955 to 1973. Since 1996, the Institute has been named after him.

From 1973 to 1993, the Institute director was the academician of the AS of the Ukrainian SSR V.P. Shestopalov.

From 1993 to 2014, the Institute director was the academician of the NAS of Ukraine V.M. Yakovenko.

Since 2014, the director of the Institute has been the corresponding member of the NAS of Ukraine P.N. Melezhik.

At present, the Institute has staff of 600 people, including 320 research workers, 1 academician and 5 corresponding members of the NAS of Ukraine, more than 40 doctors of sciences (DSc) and 130 candidates of sciences (PhD).

The Institute holds the Specialized Academic Council of the NAS of Ukraine on the issue “Radio Physics and SHF Electronics”.

The Institute is the organizer of the Kharkiv International symposium “Physics and Technology of millimeter and submillimeter waves (МSМW)” held once every three years, the International scientific conference “Mathematical Methods in Electromagnetic Theory (ММЕТ)” held once every two years, and the yearly Kharkiv Conference of young scientists.

The Institute publishes the periodical “Radiofizika i Elektronika” included in the list of Higher Attestation Commission of Ukraine (“VAK”). The journal “Telecommunications and Radio Engineering” is issued with the assistance of Institute workers.

The Institute holds the Specialized Examining Council D 64.157.01 for Doctoral Thesis Defend in the disciplines: radio physics, physical electronics, geophysics (in physics and mathematics).

Under the doctoral (Aspirantura) and post-doctoral (Doktorantura) programmes, high qualification specialists are trained in the disciplines: radio physics, theoretical physics, solid state physics, physical electronics, biophysics (in terms of physics and mathematics).

For many decades, the Institute has been in a range of collaborative activities with the top higher-education institutions in Kharkiv: V.N. Karazin Khariv National University, Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics, Kharkiv National Technical University “KhPI”, Kharkiv National Aviation University “KhAI”. Institute specialists give courses of lectures there, organize subdepartments, instruct and supervise Master students and Postgraduate students.

Five subdepartments of Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics affiliate themselves with the Institute. They are:

  • Radio Electronic Devices,
  • Computer Software,
  • Radio Engineering Fundamentals,
  • Radio Electronics Systems,
  • Physical Foundations of Electronic Engineering