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Victor Baryakhtar

1 February 2021
(02 August 1930 - 25 August 2020)

The theoretical condensed matter physicist studied magnetic materials and cofounded the Institute of Magnetism of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

Victor Gregory Baryakhtar, a member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and a well-known theoretical physicist in the area of condensed matter physics, magnetism, and nonlinear physics, passed away in Kiev on 25 August 2020 after a long-term battle with cancer.

Victor Baryakhtar (1930-2020)

He was born in a small town of Mariupol, Ukraine, on 2 August 1930, in a family of two high school science teachers. He started his studies in the nuclear physics department of Leningrad State University (now Saint Petersburg State University). This department was later moved to Kharkov State University in Ukraine. Baryakhtar graduated with honors in 1953 and started his research career at the famous Kharkov Physical and Technical Research Institute of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, which was well known around the world as one of the largest research centers in the former USSR at that time.

Baryakhtar worked with his mentor A. I. Akhiezer, who was among the cohort of disciples of the legendary Lev Landau. The Landau school, known for the universality of approaches to problems arising in diverse areas of physics, exerted tremendous influence on the theoretical physics in the Soviet Union as well as the entire world. Baryakhtar carried the spirit of this school during his research career, working on groundbreaking studies in various areas of condensed matter physics. One of his world-known accomplished works was the book titled Spin Waves published by North Holland in 1968. His scientific interests in solid-state physics covered dynamic and kinetic properties of a wide class of magnetic materials, phase transitions in materials with spontaneous polarization, magnetic domains, properties of nonlinear systems including the static and dynamic properties of systems with solitons, properties of superconducting materials, etc.

Baryakhtar had always been a great proponent of the scientific collaboration between the West and East. In the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, he visited the University of California, Berkeley, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and other places, collaborating with Alexei Maradudin, Charles Kittel, Herbert Kellen, Philip Wigen, Robert Schrieffer, and many others. This competitive but peaceful collaboration promoted productive dialogue between the physicists on both sides of the ocean.

Following the footsteps of his mentor Akhiezer, Baryakhtar created a large school of his own. Having a diverse scope of scientific interests, he always persuaded his numerous students to acquire a wide range of interests in theoretical solid-state physics. More than several dozen of his former PhD students are successfully doing their research and teaching in different European countries and in the US.

Being educated as a theorist in a wide range of topics in condensed matter physics, Baryakhtar paid big attention to collaboration between the theorists and experimentalists, being convinced that such close collaboration serves to enrich both areas. He was a founder of the Institute of Magnetism of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and served as a director of this institute for many years. In his latest years, Baryakhtar devoted big attention to the safety of nuclear power plants and sustainable energy sources.

In recognition for his accomplishments, Baryakhtar was elected to be a member of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. He also was an honorable member of the European Physical Society and a founder and a First President of the National Physical Society of Ukraine.

One of his most recent big projects was being a lead editor of the Russian version of the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Solid-State Physics. The English version of this book, edited by Charles Poole, appeared as the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Condensed Matter Physics in 2004. Combining the work of dozens of experts in their field, the book serves as the most complete resource for the students, researchers, and engineers involved in condensed matter and materials physics.

Those who had the pleasure to work with Baryakhtar always recall his true love and devotion to physics, openness and sincere attitude to his students and colleagues, and modesty in everyday life. He was one of the last fundamental scientists with encyclopedic knowledge and wide scope of interest in physics. Victor Baryakhtar’s life in physics will be always remembered by his family, students, colleagues, and friends.

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