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Sergey Ivanovich Vavilov (Russian: Серге́й Ива́нович Вави́лов (24 March [O.S. 12 March] 1891 – January 25, 1951) was a Soviet physicist, the President of the USSR Academy of Sciences from July 1945 until his death. His elder brother Nikolai Vavilov was a famous Russian geneticist.

Sergey Ivanovich Vavilov
Rus Stamp-Vavilov SI.jpg
Sergey Ivanovich Vavilov (1961)
Born(1891-03-24)24 March 1891
DiedJanuary 25, 1951(1951-01-25) (aged 59)
NationalityRussian, Soviet
Alma materMoscow State University
Known forVavilov-Cherenkov effect
Scientific career
Fieldsphysics, optics
Doctoral studentsPavel Cherenkov



Vavilov founded the Soviet school of physical optics, known by his works in luminescence. In 1934 he co-discovered the Vavilov-Cherenkov effect, a discovery for which Pavel Cherenkov was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1958. The Kasha–Vavilov rule of luminescence quantum yields is also named for him.

He was a member of the USSR Academy of Sciences from 1932, Head of the Lebedev Institute of Physics (since 1934), a chief editor of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, a member of the Supreme Soviet from 1946 and a recipient of four Stalin Prizes (1943, 1946, 1951, 1952).

He wrote on the lives and works of great thinkers, such as Lucretius, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Mikhail Lomonosov, Michael Faraday, and Pyotr Lebedev, among others.


A meteorological station (as well as a glacier and an ice cap) in October Revolution Island, in the Severnaya Zemlya group have been named after Vavilov. A minor planet 2862 Vavilov discovered in 1977 by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh is named after him and his brother Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov.[1] The crater Vavilov on the far side of the Moon is also named after him and his brother.

There is a ship named after him, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov. She is a research vessel that can carry approximately 150 crew and passengers, and is a Class-1A icebreaker which regularly makes trips to Antarctica and the Arctic. In the summer of 2010 she was working in and around the coast of Svalbard. Also, an Aeoroflot plane, with VO-BHL identification number is named after him.


  1. ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names (5th ed.). New York: Springer Verlag. p. 235. ISBN 3-540-00238-3.
  1. М. Борисов, "Изследванията на С. И. Вавилов върху физиката на луминесцентните явления", Научно-популярна сесия в памет на акад. Сергей Иванович Вавилов (17 – 18.10.1951), София, Изд. БАН, с. 39–77 (1954)
  2. Н. Ахабабян, Сергей Иванович Вавилов (по случай 100 години от рождението му), Светът на физиката, кн. 1, с. 30–35 (1991)
  3. Л. Спасов, Г. Камишева, Милко Борисов за себе си и другите за него, София, Акад. изд. "Проф. М. Дринов" (2008) с. 183

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Academic offices
Preceded by
Vladimir Komarov
President of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR
Succeeded by
Alexander Nesmeyanov