Kargin, Valentin Alekseevich

views updated


(b. Ekaterinoslav [now Dnepropetrovsk], Russia, 23 January 1907; d. Moscow, U.S.S.R., 21 October 1969)


Kargin began his scientific activities unusually early: having finished secondary school in 1922, the fifteen–year–old youth became a laboratory assistant. By 1927 he had written nine articles on problems in analytical chemistry and electrochemistry. From 1925 to 1927 he worked as a practical student in the laboratory of analytical chemistry at the L. Ia. Karpov Institute of Physical Chemistry, as an assistant to the chemist of the Rudmetalltorg Trust, as a chemist for the Group on Radioactive Ores (directed by Aleksandr Evgenievich Fersman), and as senior chemist of the Russian Gems Trust.

From 1925 to 1930, while continuing to work, Kargin studied at the Physical–Mathematical Faculty of Moscow University, from which he graduated in 1930. In 1927 he was hired as a scientific worker at the Karpov Institute of Physical Chemistry. In 1936 he was awarded the doctorate in chemistry without having defended a dissertation.

At the Karpov Institute, Kargin worked from 1927 to 1937 on developing a theory of the coagulation of colloids by electrolytes. His works were devoted to the creation of new types of electrodes for potentiometry, and in the 1920’s these works played a major role in spreading high–efficiency potentiometric methods in the Soviet Union. In the 1920’s and 1930’s Kargin revealed the physicochemical nature of fundamental differences between lyophilic and lyophobic colloids. His work was distinguished by its combination of practical direction with major theoretical achievements. His research promoted the creation of new methods of analysis and purification of substances, as well as the strengthening with liquid glass of bore holes and soils.

In 1937 Kargin headed the Laboratory of Macromolecular Compounds of the Karpov Institute. By the mid 1930’s he had become interested in a new area of physical chemistry of macromolecular compounds, the production of artificial fibers. This interest was also stimulated by practical interest—an urgent demand for the development of the scientific basis for new methods of producing artificial fibers and films formed from polymer liquids. The study of the nature and properties of polymer liquids led to the conclusion that they were thermodynamically reversible systems. As early as the 1930’s Kargin showed the correctness of applying many concepts proposed for colloid solutions of low–molecular–weight substances to such polymer liquids> at the same time that the principal differences were being discovered.

The clarification of the nature of polymer liquids permitted Kargin to begin studying the structure of polymers and the processes of forming artificial fibers and films from their solutions. This work, as well as the thermodynamic investigations of the molecular nature of polymer bodies, permitted the disclosure of regularities of the mechanical and thermomechanical properties of polymers, and the connection between the physicochemical properties of polymer materials and the structure on the molecular and submolecular levels. These works led to the structural-chemical and physical modification of chemical fibers, plastics, and rubbers, This research was closely connected with the development of problems on the deterioration of polymers and the fatigue of elastic polymers (rubbers) that began at the end of the 1940’s Kargin also conducted a study of the structural characteristics of the reaction medium in the formation of macromolecules.

During the war years, 1941–1945, Kargin worked on practical problems related to increasing the defense and economic potential of the Soviet Union. He developed and introduced a new method for processing protective materials (paper) that was awarded the State Prize in 1943. In construction he was responsible for a new method for the artificial strengthening of sandy soil saturated with water. He received the State Prize for this work in 1947.

In 1959 Kargin organized the journal Vysokomolekuliarnye soedineniia (Macromolecular compounds)and became its editor in chief. He was also involved in pedagogical activities: in 1954 he was appointed professor at Moscow State University, and in 1955 he organized and chaired the department of macromolecular compounds of the Faculty of Chemistry at the university. His research in the physical chemistry of macromolecular substances brought him the State Prize in 1950 and the Lenin Prize in 1962. In 1953 he was elected full member of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R.

During the last years of his life, Kargin devoted much of his time to studying the nature of the elasticity of polymers and the submolecular mechanism of deformation. With Viktor Aleksandrovich Kabanov and Nikolai Al’fredovich Plate he elaborated on the synthesis of polymers on freshly formed surfaces of hard particles. He also conducted experiments on submolecular deformation with V.A. Goldanskii. kargin was also the founder and editor of Entsiklopediia polymerov (Encyclopedia of polymers).


I. Original Works. Kratkie ocherki po fiziko-khimii polimerov (Short articles on the physical chemistry of polymers; 2nd ed., Moscow. 1967). with G.L. Slonimskii; Kolloidnye sistemy i rastvory polimerov. lzbrannye trudy (Colloid systems and polymer solutions. Collected works; Moscow. 1978); and Struktura i mekanicheskie svoistva polimerov (The structure and mechanical properties of polymers: Moscow. 1979).

II. Secondary Literature. Akademiia Nauk SSSR. Valentin Alekseevich Kargin, Materialy k biobliografii uchenykh SSSR. ser. khimicheskikh nauk, no. 29 (Moscow. 1960).

A. N. Shamin