Victor P. Spiridonov (19312001)

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  • P1: MRM/FYX P2: MRM/RKP QC: MRMStructural Chemistry (STUC) Pp254-344020 August 31, 2001 16:28 Style file version Nov. 07, 2000

    Structural Chemistry, Vol. 12, No. 5, October 2001 ( c 2001)

    Victor P. Spiridonov (19312001)

    Lev Vilkov1 and Istvan Hargittai2;3

    Victor P. Spiridonov in 1978 (photo by I. Hargittai).

    Victor Pavlovich Spiridonov, Professor of PhysicalChemistry of Moscow State University and long time Ad-ministrative Head of its Gas Electron Diffraction Labora-tory, has died. Victor was born on June 20, 1931. He wasa student of Moscow State University where he startedhis electron diffraction studies in 1951. He was a memberof the student scientific club and Lev Gurvich had gottenhim interested in this field. When Gurvich was forced outof the University in an antisemitic wave in 1952, Victorjoined Petr Akishin. One of us (LV) also began his elec-tron diffraction studies at that time. When the electronDiffraction Laboratory was officially formed at MoscowState University, Akishin was appointed to be its Head.Victor replaced him in this position in 1963 and stayed onas Head until his death in 2001.

    1Moscow State Universtiy, Moscow.2Budapest University of Technology, H-1521, Budapest, Hungary.3To whom all correspondence should be addressed. email:

    I (LV) had worked on kinetic processes and explo-sions before I joined electron diffraction. The Chair of theDepartment of Physical Chemistry, Professor Frost hadassigned me to P. A. Akishin even before Gurvich leftthe University. I started building up the experiment andnobody but Victor was interested in this project. After Ihad finished my Diploma Work (Masters degree equiva-lent), I did not continue with Akishin, who at that time didnot have a scientific degree and I entered graduate studiesfor my candidates degree (Ph.D. equivalent). Nominally,Victor was my Masters student as he was 1 year my ju-nior. He was interested in inorganic structures, while I wasstudying under M. V. Tatevskii and my project was thedetermination of the structure of small organic molecules.Victors project was the structure of ZnCl2, ZnBr2, andZnI2. Our joint paper had three authors, Akishin, Vilkov,and Spiridonov (ordered according to the Russian alpha-bet). It was published in Dokladi Akademii Nauk in 1955.We moved into the new building of the Chemistry Fac-ulty in 1954 and Akishin organized a new administrativeunitthe laboratory of gas-phase electron diffractionhewas a very good manager. The high-temperature apparatuswas constructed at a special institute outside the Univer-sity. Three groups were emerging in electron diffractionand, accordingly, we had three separate offices doublingas laboratories, one each for Victor, Nikolai Rambidi, andmyself. There was great activity in the electron diffractionlaboratory as our work involved the study of new mate-rials, especially at high temperatures, that were relatedto missiles and fuels. The study of inorganic structureswas performed in the framework of a project supportedby an outside organization. Both Victor and I defendedour dissertations for the highest scientific degree, Doctorof Science, in 1969. Our scientific interests and direc-tions, however, were very different. Victors main interestwas in methodology, in the techniques of structure anal-ysis, and in converting the structures produced by elec-tron diffraction into equilibrium structures. Victor was an

    3471040-0400/01/1000-0347$19.50/0 C 2001 Plenum Publishing Corporation

  • P1: MRM/FYX P2: MRM/RKP QC: MRMStructural Chemistry (STUC) Pp254-344020 August 31, 2001 16:28 Style file version Nov. 07, 2000

    348 Vilkov and Hargittai

    idealist romantic who believed that it sufficed for him toproduce ideas and let others work out them.

    Although I (IH) did my Masters degree in the Elec-tron Diffraction Laboratory of Moscow State Universityin the academic year 1964/65, I did not have much in-teraction with Victor until years after I had returned toBudapest. We started our own high-temperature electrondiffraction experiments in the early 1970s in Budapestand about the same time I also became interested in crit-ically viewing the physical meaning of the structural pa-rameters produced by different techniques. Victor wasvery helpful giving us advice and contributing to ourbooks, which we edited. The first was a 35-page treatiseon The Determination of Harmonic Potential Functionsfrom Diffraction Information in Diffraction Studies onNon-Crystalline Substances (Elsevier, 1981). Amonghis coauthors were his two stellar associates, the lateEvgenii Zasorin and Alexandr Gershikov, who a few yearslater emigrated to Israel. The last of his book chaptercontributions was titled Equilibrium Structure and Po-tential Function: A Goal to Structure Determination inAdvances in Molecular Structure Research, Vol. 3 (JAIpress, 1997). He was truly dedicated to producing theequilibrium structure and to combining experimental in-formation from diffraction and spectrosopic studies in the

    most critical way. He could not understand why otherswere so slow in incorporating his suggestions into theirstudies. He was always ready to talk and argue about thebest approach in structure analysis. He was a pragmaticperson. At one time he became entangled in a dispute ofideology and heavily criticized the application of the con-cept of electronegativity in a series of articles. However,when we wrote a joint paper and invoked electronega-tivity in a discussion of VSEPR-type structures, he pre-ferred participation in the work to preserving ideologicalpurity.

    Victor was unselfish and eager to share his knowl-edge and experience. He was instrumental in creatinga new Electron Diffraction Group in Ivanovo, a fewhundred kilometers east of Moscow, which has contin-ued much of his high-temperature electron diffractionwork on inorganic substances. He had many Mastersstudents and over 30 candidates of science, three ofwhom eventually reached the D.Sc. degree as well.He was internationally known and well respected. Heis survived by his wife Victoria and daughter Olga,and his two grandchildren. His work will be remem-bered in the activities of his students and colleaguesand his memory will be kept alive by his friends andfamily.