Vladimir Sakhnenko: the Nobel Prize proved significance of technical physics

Vladimir Sakhnenko, the Head of the Chair of technical physics of Southern Federal University told about the Chair’s activity and in what way this activity is connected to the Nobel Prize in physics.

- You are the Head of the Chair of technical physics. What questions are of the interest of the Chair? What kinds of specialists are trained there?

- The name of the Chair talks on itself. Here one can obtain wide comprehensive knowledge of physics, aimed on application of scientific and engineering activity.

Technical physics is not typical for a traditional university. Normally such kinds of chairs belong to a technical university. We create directions of education for training engineers with very high level of knowledge in physics and mathematics. Nowadays in the time of high technologies these employees are of high demand. The Chair of technical physics is the field that is able to draw a person who is interested in fundamental science and intended for engineering.

- With what problems copes the Chair?

- There are two main directions: applied physics concerned with research and obtaining of new materials of the widest range, and radioecology. The first direction considers not only materials, as it is technical physics the equipment design prevails – ability to build devices that are able to analyze material’s property. In the university and particularly in the Research Institute of Physics we have great experience in this field and we try to hand this experience to our students. Radioecology does not need to be specially commented; it is clear that mankind should control background radiation and radiation level at places of production. We train specialists in this direction. Some students are engaged in applied nuclear physics problems that have no direct relations to ecology.

- And does it mean that technical physics is applied study?

- Technical physics does not stand out as separate field of science it relates to physics itself. Its importance is expressed at least by the obtaining this year Nobel Prize in physics for technical achievement, bringing to life a peculiar idea. From the name of the work “blue diodes” one can see that it is production of particular item and not discovery of, let me say, the new principle in physics. And this is very close to what we are doing.

- But what is the novelty of “blue diodes”?  Indeed diodes were created first in the sixties of the 20th century?

- Light-emitting diodes convert electric power to light. They are remarkable because they do it with coefficient of performance of fifty percent, because the energy doesn’t dissipate on heating. Light-emitting diodes for red and green parts of spectrum actually exist and in use for quite a long time, but their useless for room illumination. Diodes that emit light in the blue part of spectrum in combination with green and red diodes can provide white light and they could become economy and long-lasting alternative to ordinary light bulbs.

The problem of creation of blue diode was in finding appropriate combination of materials that emit photons with high energy. In nature these materials are very rare.  Necessary combination of materials of gallium nitride on sapphire glass was composed by Shuji Nakamura back to 90s. His invention immediately was found applicable in modern thin screens, in technology of Blu-ray data package, and even water and food treatment. Thus the Nobel Prize was won for technical invention which in use for a long time.