Frenkel, Jacob Ilich

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FRENKEL, JACOB ILICH (1894–1952), Soviet physicist. Frenkel became an instructor at the University of the Crimea. From 1921 Frenkel lived in Leningrad. At first, he combined research work at the Physico-Technical Institute with lecturing at the Polytechnical Institute, where he headed the theoretical physics department for 30 years. He became a corresponding member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences in 1929. Frenkel's research was related to the physics of the atmosphere (particularly atmospheric electricity), terrestrial magnetism, biophysics, astrophysics, quantum theory, and the motion of electrons in metals. He laid foundations for the understanding of ferromagnetism and presented a theory of dielectric excitation, along with important ideas relating to defects in crystal lattices. He drew attention to certain similarities between liquid and solid structures, engaged in important research on the liquid state, and presented his conclusions in his book on the kinetic theory of liquids (1945). Soon after the first artificial splitting of the uranium atom, Frenkel advanced a theory to account for the phenomenon of fission, which provided a basis for practical applications of nuclear energy. He was a pioneer in the writing of original Russian handbooks on modern theoretical physics.


Bolshaya Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya, 45 (19562); T. Kuhn, et al., Sources for History of Quantum Physics (1967), index.

[J. Edwin Holmstrom]