Mikhailovich Prokhorov was born on July 11th, 1916, in Australia.
After the Great October Revolution he went in 1923 with his parents to
the Soviet Union.
In 1934 Alexander Prochorov entered the Physics Department of the
Leningrad State University. He attended lectures of Prof. V.A. Fock
(quantum mechanics, theory of relativity), Prof. S.E. Frish (general
physics, spectroscopy), and Prof. E.K.Gross (molecular physics). After
graduating in 1939 he became a postgraduate student of the P.N.
Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow, in the laboratory of
oscillations headed by Academician N.D. Papaleksi. There he started to
study the problems of propagation of radio waves. In June 1941, he was
mobilized in the Red Army. He took part in the Second World War and
was wounded twice. After his second injury in 1944, he was demobilized
and went back to the laboratory of oscillations of the P.N. Lebedev
Physical Institute. There he began to investigate nonlinear
oscillations under the guidance of Prof. S.M. Rytov.
In 1946 he defended his thesis on the theme Theory of Stabilization of
Frequency of a Tube Oscillator in the Theory of a Small Parameter..
Starting in 1947, upon the suggestion of Academician V.I. Veksler,
Prochorov carried out a study of the coherent radiation of electrons
in the synchotron in the region of centimetre waves. As a result of
these investigations he wrote and defended in 1951 his Ph.D. thesis a
"Coherent Radiation of Electrons in the Synchotron Accelerator".
After the death of Academician I.D. Papaleksi in 1946, the laboratory
of oscillations was headed by Academician M.A. Leontovich. Starting
from 1950 being assistant chief of the laboratory, Prochorov began to
investigate on a wide scale the question of radiospectroscopy and,
somewhat later, of quantum electronics. He organized a group of young
scientists interested in the subjects.
In 1954, when Academician M.A. Leontovich started to work in the
Institute of Atomic Energy, Prochorov became head of the laboratory of
oscillations, which position he still holds. In 1959 the laboratory of
radio astronomy headed by Prof. V.V. Vitkevitch) was organized from
one ofthe departments of the laboratory of oscillations, and in 1962
another department was separated as the laboratory of quantum
radiophysics (headed by Prof. N.G. Basov).
Academician D.V. Skobeltzyn, director of the Institute, and
Academician M.A. Leontovich as well, rendered great assistance in the
development of the research on radiospectroscopy and quantum
electronics. The investigations carried out by Basov and Prochorov in
the field of microwave spectroscopy resulted in the idea of a
molecular oscillator. They developed theoretical grounds for creation
of a molecular oscillator and also constructed a molecular oscillator
operating on ammonia. In 1955, Basov and Prochorov proposed a method
for the production of a negative absorption which was called the
From 1950 to 1955, Prochorov and his collaborators carried out
research on molecular structures by the methods of microwave
In 1955 Professor Prochorov began to develop the research on
electronic paramagnetic resonance (EPR). A cycle of investigations of
EPR spectra and relaxation times in various crystals was carried out,
in particular investigations on ions of the iron group elements in the
lattice of Al2O3.
In 1955, Prochorov studied with A.A. Manenkov the EPR spectra of ruby
that made it possible to suggest it as a material for lasers in 1957.
They designed and constructed masers using various materials and
studied characteristics of the masers as well. This research was done
in cooperation with the laboratory of radiospectroscopy of the
Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Moscow University; this laboratory
was organized by Prochorov in 1957. One of the masers constructed for
a wavelength of 21 cm is used in the investigations of the
radioastronomical station of the Physical Institute in Pushino.
The EPR methods were also utilized for the study of free radicals. In
particular, the transition of a free radical of DPPH from a
paramagnetic state into an antiferromagnetic state at 0.3K was
In 1958 Prochorov suggested a laser for generation offer-infrared
waves. As a resonator it was proposed to use a new type of cavity
which was later called "the cavity of an open type". Practically
speaking, it is Fabri-Pero's interferometer. Similar cavities are
widely used in lasers.
At present Prochorov's principal scientific interests lie in the field
of solid lasers and their utilization for physical purposes, in
particular for studies of multiquantum processes. In 1963, he
suggested together with A.S. Selivanenko, a laser using two-quantum
Alexander Prochorov is Professor at the Moscow State University and
Vice-President of URSI.
He married in I941; his wife, G.A. Shelepina, is a geographer. They
have one son.
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