About the department

History of the department

The history of the Department of Physics is inextricably linked to the history of the National Technical University “Kharkiv Polytechnic Institute”.

On April 16, 1885, the tsarist government approved the regulations for the Kharkiv Practical Technological Institute (KPTI) to begin functioning. On July 3, 1885, Viktor Lvovich Kyrpychov, a renowned scientist, was appointed as the institute’s director. In August 1885, the KIPT admitted its first students – 125 men, with 85 in the mechanical department and 40 in the chemical department. On September 15, 1885, the KIPT officially opened.

The concept of a ‘department’ in the modern sense did not exist at that time. A few years prior to 1885, the Physical Building was constructed to house the institute’s facilities. The building includes a physics classroom, two physics laboratories, a large physics classroom, a mechanical workshop for instrument manufacturing, rooms for experiments, and apartments for staff.

In 1885, Oleksandr Pohorilko, a physics master and associate professor at Kharkiv University, was invited to teach a physics course at the Institute as an adjunct professor. In the first and second years of study, students learned about physics through a curriculum that included approximately 200 hours of lectures. The course covered mechanics, molecular kinetic theory, thermodynamics, as well as the study of sound, liquids, and solids.

In 1889, the Institute’s Educational Committee decided to expand the physics course by introducing the ‘General Doctrine of Electricity’ and ‘Fundamentals of Light Theory’ without increasing the total number of hours. Additionally, electrical engineering was introduced for third-year students, with two hours per week of optional practical classes. In 1891, Professor O. Pohorilko petitioned for the appointment of a laboratory assistant at the Physical Cabinet to accompany the lectures on physics and electrical engineering with demonstrations of physical apparatus and experiments. The first laboratory assistant was Mykola Klobukiv, a doctor of philosophy at the University of Erlangen and an assistant at the Munich Higher Technical School. Additionally, in the same year, O.K. Pohorilko published lithographed courses on part of the general course of physics, specifically the theory of electricity and electrical engineering. In 1893, the Physical Cabinet became a center for those interested in conducting research in physical science and technology.

A room was also arranged at the Physical Laboratory for photometric and photographic work, known as the Photo Cabinet.

In 1897, during the third year of study, optional laboratory classes in physics were introduced. These classes were led by Associate Professor A. Pohorilko and supervised by laboratory assistants V. Pashkov and V. Popov.

In 1898, an extension to the Physical Building (formerly the Electrical Workshop) was constructed to accommodate the increase in the number of students (300 students in each course) and to make laboratory work compulsory. The extension was completed in 1902.

In 1900, Dmytro Andriiovych Kutnevych, a candidate of the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics, was appointed as the second physics teacher.

In 1901, colloquia were cancelled for first-year students, and laboratory work in physics was still not included in the compulsory curriculum because the proper environment for a large number of students had not been created.

In 1902, Mykola Dmytrovych Pilchykov, an extraordinary professor at Novorossiysk University, was invited to the position of physics professor. During M.D. Pilchikov’s leadership of the Physics Cabinet and Laboratory in the pre-revolutionary period, significant progress was made. Pilchikov was a renowned scientist, known for his broad knowledge, excellent lecturing skills, and impressive experimental work. On April 7, 1898, he publicly demonstrated a radio-controlled clock, models of a cannon, semaphore, and lighthouse. Additionally, he founded the Magnetometeorological Department and the Meteorological Station at the university. In 1905, the publication of Vesti KhTI and the People’s Encyclopedia of Scientific and Applied Knowledge was initiated.

After the tragic death of M.D. Pilchikov in 1909, P.V. Shepelev became his successor as a lecturer. During his tenure as head of the department, textbooks on elementary physics and electrostatics were published in lithographic form, along with methodological instructions for laboratory tasks (for the first time), and research work was conducted in various fields of physics.

In 1912. The Institute’s Educational Committee addressed the issue of changing the current teaching system and approved the following physics program:

In the first year, students cover Introduction, Physical Measurements, Doctrine of Gases, Liquids and Solids, and Doctrine of Heat and Sound.

In the second year, they study Theories of Light, Electricity, Magnetism, and Current.

The following provisions were established for practical classes in physics:

  • Familiarization with basic devices and instruments.
  • Conducting 16 practical works in the Physics Workshop, and for those who are particularly interested in gaining knowledge of the subject, additional tasks are provided.
  • The Physics Workshop is divided into 2 parts, according to the content of the 1st and 2nd year physics courses.

The main textbook used is Prof. Zilov’s Physics Course, which is supplemented by lectures on the established curriculum.

From 1914 to 1916, the Institute employed part-time lecturers to teach physics. The physics classroom and laboratory were temporarily supervised by laboratory assistant A.M. Ilyev. The staff reported that the normal course of the educational process required five teachers, but there were no full-time teachers available.  The physics laboratory was in an unsatisfactory condition. Expansion of the Physics Building was necessary. However, the realization of this need was delayed for a long time due to wars, social revolutions, and occupations.

From 1916 to 1920, Czeslaw Wladyslawowicz Reczynski, PhD, an Associate Professor at the University of Gottingen, managed the Physical Cabinet and Laboratory. Despite the challenging circumstances, the laboratory resumed its scientific work.

In 1917, the institute opened new specializations and established the Women’s Polytechnic and New Oleksandriya Agricultural Institutes on its territory.

In 1920, the institute began to function with three faculties, and a project to open an electrical engineering faculty was developed. Due to understaffing, students were required to perform labor service.

The KhMMI opened the Faculty of Physics and Mechanics to train highly qualified physics engineers, urgently needed by research and factory laboratories. Ivan V. Obreimov was appointed as the dean of the Faculty of Physics and Mechanics and head of the Department of General and Experimental Physics. He was also one of the organizers and the first director of the faculty. In the future, he became an academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences. The Department of Theoretical Physics at KIPT was led by D.D. Ivanenko and St.L. Rosenkevich, both former UVTI employees, and from 1932 to 1935 by Lev Davidovich Landau, who later became a Nobel Prize winner for his famous course in theoretical physics.

In 1950, KhPI was reestablished as a single university. The Department of Physics at KhPI was located in the same premises as the Department of Physics at KMMI. The department was equipped with the necessary equipment from all departments. Since 1950, the Department has been led by Professor Mykhailo Mykolaiovych Korsunsky, a renowned scientist and Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. Later, he became an academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR. Under his leadership, the Department of Physics at KhPI established conducive conditions for serious scientific work and organized the laboratories:

  • the Problem Laboratory of Semiconductor Materials
  • the Problem Laboratory of Gas Discharge.
  • the X-ray spectral laboratory.

From 1962 to 2000, Volodymyr Arseniiovych Bazakutsa served as the head of the Department of Physics. He made significant efforts to develop the department’s methodology and improve the quality of physics education in line with modern requirements for training highly qualified engineering personnel. By 1965, the teaching laboratory workshop had utilized over 100 laboratory tasks covering all sections of the physics course. A new teaching laboratory for atomic and solid-state physics was established, along with two teaching and research laboratories: a laser laboratory and a plasma-chemical laboratory. The department also prepared and published methodological developments and textbooks. Simultaneously, the department focused on scientific work, primarily in three areas:

  • Semiconductor physics,
  • Gas discharge physics, and
  • Physics of aerosols.

The Department of Theoretical and Experimental Physics was established in 1972 by Academician B.I. Verkin, Director of ILTPE NASU, and Professor L.S. Palatnyk, Head of the Department of Physics of Metals and Semiconductors at NTU “KhPI”.  The department was organized and led by Professor V.M. Kosevich, a Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, until 2006. The department’s main task was to implement a new system for training young specialists. Physics students would receive most of their education in an operating research laboratory under the guidance of leading specialists from research institutes in Kharkiv.  From its foundation, the department was closely connected with Kharkiv’s academic research institutes.  Leading scientists from research institutes were invited to give special courses in physics. These included academicians B.I. Verkin, I.M. Dmitrenko, and I.A. Kulik, as well as Corresponding Member I.K. Janson, and Doctors of Physics L.S. Kukushkin, F.G. Bass, and Y.G. Gurevich from IRE.  The department specializes in training theoretical physicists and benefits from its connection with current academic science.

From 2006 to 2017, Professor Oleksandr Hryhorovych Bahmut, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, led the Department of Theoretical and Experimental Physics.

Similarly, from 2000 to 2015, Professor Andrii Mamalui, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, headed the Department of General and Experimental Physics.  The department has maintained its traditional focus while also achieving new successes in emerging areas.

In the period from 2015 to 2017, the Department of General and Experimental Physics was headed by Professor, Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Oleksandr Suk. During these years, there was an urgent need to reorganize the teaching of physics at NTU “KhPI” in accordance with modern requirements for training.  In February 2017, it was decided to merge two departments – the Department of General and Experimental Physics and the Department of Theoretical and Experimental Physics. From 2017 to 2019, the merged Department of Physics was headed by Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Oleksandr Semenov.

In February 2019, Professor, Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Olena Lyubchenko became the Head of the Department of Physics.