CREATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE INSTITUTE
Radium Institute was established in 1922 by initiative of academician V.I. Vernadskiy and under his leadership by the means of integration of all radiological enterprises available by that time in Petrograd: Radium Laboratory under the Academy of Sciences, Radium Division of the State Roentgenological and Radiological Institute, and Radiochemical Laboratory. Scientific leadership of the new Institute was spread to radium mine and to a factory in Bondyuga (Tatarstan). At this factory V.G. Khlopin and M.A. Pasvik reached first in Russia high-enriched radium compound in December 1921. The State Radium Institute became a center where the native nuclear science and engineering were born and being developed.
A number of outstanding scientists, fellows of Russian Academy of Sciences worked at the Institute in various periods of time and among them there were academicians A.I. Alikhanov, V.I. Vertnadskiy, S. n. Vernov, A. P. Vinogradov, A.A. Greenberg, P.L. Kapitsa, I.V. Kourchatov, A.I. Leipunskiy, P.I. Loukirskiy, B.P. Nikolskiy, A.E. Fersman, V.G. Khlopin, D.I. Scherbakov; corresponding member V.V. Belousov, V.M. Vdovenko, I.I. Gourevich, B.S. Dgelepov, V.N. Dgelepov, M.G. Mescheraykov, K.A. Nenadkevich, B.A. Nikitin, I.E. Starik, professors K.K. Aglintsev, A.B. Verigo, E.K. Kerling, V.I. Grebenschikova, G.V. Gorshkov, A.P. Zhdanov, D.M. Ziv, L.V. Komlev, A.S. Krivokhatskiy, A.A. Lipovskiy, A.N. Mourin, L.V. Mysovskiy, Yu.A. Nemilov, V.I. Paramonova, N.A. Perfilov, K.A. Petrzhak, M.F. Poushlenkov, A.P. Ratner, G.M. Tolmachev, and other eminent experts in the field of researching and practical application of radioactivity phenomenon.
Comprehensive approach to the problem of radioactivity, characteristic for the founders of the Institute, academicians V.I. Vertnadskiy and V.G. Khlopin, predetermined also comprehensive structure of the Institute, based on combination of physical, chemical, and radiogeochemical investigations.
Native radiochemistry as a science arose within the walls of the Institute. In 20-30-s V.G. Khlopin and his progeny ascertained general behavior of co-precipitation, sorption, and liquid radioelement extraction processes, which were later taken as a base for commercial radiochemical technologies. Establishment of native radium industry and the State radium Fund (middle 20-s) were the main practical results of Institute's working already in early years of its activity.
Fundamental researches were carried out by I.E. Starik and his teammates in radiocolloids and adsorption of radionuclide microquantities. These works formed a basis for further studies on contaminations and decontamination.
Radium Institute was a place, where native physics of atomic nucleus was initiated and formed. Just here in the end of 20-s there was created by G.A. Gamov the theory of atomic nuclei alpha decay, and in 1937 L.V. Mysovskiy and I.V. Kourchatov put into operation the first in Europe cyclotron. In 1940 K.A. Petrzhak and G.N. Flerov discovered a phenomenon of spontaneous uranium fission. Grounds of native neutron physics, physics of fission, and non-destructive gamma test were also formed at the Institute.
In post-war period V.G. Khlopin, B.A. Nikitin, and A.P. Ratner developed at Radium Institute the first native technology aimed at plutonium recovery from irradiated uranium ("acetate precipitation technology"), which made provision for commercial plutonium reaching in radiochemical productions with the purpose to create an atomic bomb. K.K. Aglintsev and K.A. Petrzhak formed basement for domestic dosimetry and metrology of radiations, B.S. Dgelepov, N.A. Perfilov and other scientists implemented pioneer works in the field of nuclear physics. G.M. Tolmachev developed radiochemical method to specify parameters of experimental nuclear charges. The Institute took part in realization of radiochemical analyses at 40 nuclear tests (surface, submarine, above-water, and air) conducted in a period from 1949 to 1962.
In 50-s and 60-s general efforts of scientific researches of the Institute were directed to radiochemical support to Soviet atomic industry, to fundamental and applied investigations in the field of physics of atomic nucleus. In the period from 1965 to 1984 Radium Institute's employees participated in realization of 55 pacific underground nuclear explosions in the territory of the USSR.
Essentially at the same time with commercial plutonium production developing there were started the works directed to improvement of fabrication technology with the purpose to increase production output, improve quality of products, as well as to decrease emission volumes and to heighten total production rate of a plant. Developmental works by M.V. Posvolskiy on plutonium oxidation gave opportunity to double efficiency of precipitation chain. This stage of working was completed under the leadership of B.P. Nikolskiy, and it coursed to origination of "wholly-acetate" flowchart (1957), which was initially realized at the site of Chemical Combine "Mayak". This process flowchart was then repeated at two other radiochemical factories under immediate participation of Radium Institute.
Further researches were conducted under the leadership of B.P. Nikolskiy and V.I. Paramonova (since last 50-s to early 70-s) and were aimed at development and introduction of sorption plutonium refining on anion exchangers and on phosphate cation exchangers. The next stage of modernization consisted in substitution of precipitation processes by extraction that was associated with the name of M.F. Pushlenkov. At that sorption refining was reserved by initiative of production enterprises. Just this complex of works formed the basis for elaboration of technology NPP SNF reprocessing and brought world fame to the Radium Institute in the field of radiochemical technique in "post-new-building" period.
In 70-s in the city of Gatchina there was established experimental base of Radium Institute. Pilot installations arranged in hot cells of radiochemical building reproduced the process flowchart of RT-1 and RT-2 SNF regenerating plants gave opportunity to reach invaluable information on the management of spent fuel and waste. Recommendations proposed by Radium Institute were inserted into process flowcharts of enterprises under operating.
In 70-80-s the Institute carried out researches in nuclear physics, developed scientific basements for radioisotope production, conducted radioecological investigations. Institute's experts realized monitoring of environmental contamination caused by tests of nuclear weapons since a period of the first Soviet nuclear explosion (1949).
Radium Institute was involved in the works organized in the region of Chernobyl NPP immediately after the accident. Institute's specialists took very active part in realization of emergency and post-emergency investigations just at the 4-th unit, as well as within 30-km zone. Institute's staff made a sizeable contribution to investigation of radiation situation at the places, where nuclear submarines "Koursk" and "Komsomolets" perished.
Advances of Radium Institute's staff were distinguished with orders of Labor Red Banner and "Mark of Honor". Academicians V.G. Khlopin and B.P. Nickolskiy were awarded with a title of Hero of Socialist Labor. Seven Institute's employees were awarded with Lenin Award, 28 persons - with the USSR State Award, 35 persons - with Award of the USSR Council of Ministers, and more than 120 - with orders and medals.
Radium Institute for the period of its activity have reached a high prestige in international science community. The Institute was visited by such outstanding scientists, as M Gaisinskiy, Ya. Geierovskiy, F. Jolio Curie, I. Curie, F. Panet, G. Seaborg, and other well-known persons, officials of IAEA and national nuclear programs from many countries of the world.
The Institute has taken part in more than 50 ISTC projects and participates for a long time in representative international conferences such as Global, Spectrum, Waste Management, Nuclear Data for Science and Technology, and other.