Zavoisky discovered the phenomenon of electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR).

Discovery of the Electron Paramagnetic Resonance

Eugene Zavoisky observed the phenomenon already during the tests in 1941, but the experiments were difficult to reproduce and the World War II has diverted all of the efforts of the scientist to solving defense problems. Only in 1944, the scientist was finally convinced in the discovery of the electron paramagnetic resonance. Although, the priority of the discovery of EPR by Zavoisky was never challenged.

The Essence of the Electron Paramagnetic Resonance

Some elements are paramagnetic, i.e. when placed in a strong magnetic fieldthey demonstrate the appearance of magnetic properties, which can be identified, including oxygen and nitrogen.

Electron paramagnetic resonance phenomenon can be used for research purposes. If you put a substance into a device, it is possible, without destroying it, to establish the composition and, most importantly, the structure of the substance.

Moreover, it is possible to carry out chemical reactions and with the help of EPR during the process to see how chemical reactions take place, what intermediate compounds are formed and at what stages – that is, to reveal the whole mechanism of a chemical reaction!

But that’s not all. Imagine a living biological organism. With the use of EPR it is possible to study the processes occurring inside an animal during its normal life! Fantastic opportunities.

Was there a Discovery?

The methodology on the experiment by Zavoisky was ingenious in its simplicity, and Zavoisky himself didn’t belong to any reputable scientific school, which caused skepticism about the reports of the discovery of the electron paramagnetic resonance.

However, well-known Soviet physicists Pyotr Kapitsa and Alexander Shalnikov came to his aid by providing him the opportunities of their laboratories, and Eugene was able to successfully repeat his experiments.

What was the Nobel Committee Thinking?

In the opinion of some physicists, the nuclear resonance phenomenon was expected and predictable, itwas about time for someone to discover it. And if it is expected – the discovery is not as valuable. Very strange logic, isn’t it?

Another possible reason was that Zavoisky was engaged in the Nuclear project. But almost all Soviet Nobel Prize winners in physics were working on the Nuclear project, and Andrei Sakharov received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Most likely it was just a serious mistake on the part of the Nobel Committee, because of whichto some extent the authority of the Royal Swedish Academy at the time was put into question, thus causing some damage to its reputation.

Eugene Zavoisky noted with regret that insufficient notability of the Soviet works on the electron paramagnetic resonance in the world was a direct consequence of disunity of researchers.

Today many phenomena of magnetic radiospectroscopy have been discovered: the phenomenon of nuclear magnetic resonance, ferromagnetic resonance, antiferromagnetic resonance, nuclear quadruple resonance, and so on. And scientists received a number of Nobel Prizes for their work in these areas…


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