Pavel Alekseyevich Cherenkov (Павел Алексеевич Черенков, 1904-1990) was a Soviet physicist who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1958 for his scientific contributions.
Cherenkov was born in 1904 to Aleksey and Maria Cherenkov in the small village of Novaya Chigla in Voronezh Oblast
He graduated from the Department of Physics and Mathematics of Voronezh State University in 1928, in 1930 he took a post as a senior researcher in the Lebedev Institute of Physics. That same year he married Maria Putintseva, daughter of A.M. Putintsev, a Professor of Russian Literature. They had two children together, a son, Aleksey, and a daughter, Elena.
Cherenkov was promoted to the section leader, and in 1940 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Physico-Mathematical Sciences. In 1953 he was confirmed as Professor of Experimental Physics. Starting in 1959, he headed the institute's photo-meson processes laboratory. He remained a professor for fourteen years. In 1970 he became an Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences.
Cherenkov died in Moscow on January 6, 1990, and was interred in Novodevichy Cemetery.
Discoveries in physics
In 1934, while working under S.I. Vavilov
, Cherenkov observed the emission of blue light from a bottle of water subjected to radioactive bombardment. This phenomenon, associated with charged atomic particles
moving at velocities higher than the speed of light
in the local medium, proved to be of great importance in subsequent experimental work in nuclear physics
, and for the study of cosmic rays
. Eponymously, it was dubbed the Cherenkov effect
, as was the Cherenkov detector, which has become a standard piece of equipment in atomic research for observing the existence and velocity of high-speed particles. The device was installed in Sputnik 3
Pavel Cherenkov has also shared in the development and construction of electron accelerators and in the investigations of photo-nuclear and photo-meson reactions.
Awards and honours
Cherenkov was awarded a number of USSR State Prizes
, the first in 1946, sharing the honor with Vavilov
, and two more in 1952, and 1977 for solo efforts. In 1958 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics
for the discovery of the Cherenkov effect. He was also awarded the Soviet Union's Hero of Socialist Labor
title in 1984.