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Alexander Leypunsky


Leypunsky Alexander Ilyich

(07.12.1903 – 14.08.1972)

Physicist-experimenter, one of the founders of nuclear physics and nuclear power engineering in the USSR

Alexander Leypunsky was born in a village Dragli, Sokolsky district, Grondo province (now in Poland). In 1926 he graduated from Leningrad Polytechnic Institute. Since 1926 he worked at Leningrad Physico-technical Institute, since 1929 – at Kharkov Physico-technical Institute (in 1933–1937 he was the director), since 1941 – at the Institute of Physics and Mathematics of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in Kiev (in 1944–1949 he was the director). Since 1949 Leypunsky was the head of the department, since 1959 – the research manager of the Institute of Physics and Power Engineering in Obninsk (now the State Scientific Center of Russian Federation – the Institute for Physics and Power Engineering named after A.I. Leypunsky). Simultaneously since 1946 he was the head of chair of the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute.

Leypunsky is the author of scientific works on atomic and nuclear physics, reactor physics, thermal physics and technology of liquid-metal coolants, nuclear power engineering. In 1932 for the first time in the USSR together with other scientists he carried out nuclear fission of lithium by accelerated protons. In 1934, working with Rutherford at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University (UK), Leypunsky gave the first experimental evidence of the existence of neutrino by measuring the energy spectrum of recoil nucleus in the beta decay. For the first time he gave quantitative assessments of the critical parameters of nuclear chain reaction involving uranium isotopes (1940–1941). In 1947 he was the first who suggested an idea of circular proton accelerator – synchrophasotron, in 1948–1949 he proposed the concept of nuclear fast breeder reactor. Leypunsky performed extensive research on the physics of such reactors, headed work on their creation which in 1973 culminated in setting into operation the most powerful in the world fast neuron industrial power reactor BN-350, which combines the functions of a nuclear power plant and a sea water distiller. He was the organizer and the editor of the USSR’s first physical journal in foreign languages «Physikalische Zeitschrift der Sowietunion» (1932). Leypunsky was an Academician of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (1934), a laureate of the Lenin Prize (1960), Hero of Socialist Labor (1963). He died in Obninsk (Russia).


1. Избранные труды. Воспоминания. Киев: Наукова думка, 1990.


1. Горобец Б. С. Секретные физики из Атомного проекта СССР: Семья Лейпунских. Москва: Эдиториал УРСС, 2009.



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