Il’ja Mikhailovich Frank was born in Leningrad on October 23, 1908, the younger son of Mikhail Lyudvigovic Frank, a Professor of Mathematics, and his wife, Dr. Yelizaveta Mikhailovna Gratsianova. He attended the Moscow State University as a pupil of Vavilov, and graduated in 1930. In 1931 he became a senior scientific officer in Professor A.N. Terenin’s laboratory in the State Optical Institute in Leningrad, and in 1934 he joined the P.N. Lebedev Institute of Physics of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences as a scientific officer. He was promoted firstly to senior scientific officer and, in 1941, to his present position as officer in charge of the Atomic Nucleus Laboratory. Since 1957 he has simultaneously occupied the post of Director of the Neutron Laboratory of the Joint Institute of Nuclear Investigations.
The first investigations of I.M. Frank were in the field of photoluminescence and in photochemistry. From 1934 he began his work on nuclear physics in the Laboratory of Professor D.V. Skobeltzyn. The experimental investigations of pair creation by g-rays and other problems connected with the measurements and application of g-rays were carried out by him. His further works were devoted to neutron physics, the investigation of reactions on light nuclei and nuclear fission by mesons.
The subject of his theoretical investigations is the Vavilov-Cerenkov effect and related problems.
Frank was awarded the degree of Doctor of Physico-Mathematical Sciences in 1935; in 1944 he was confirmed in the academic rank of Professor, and was elected a Corresponding Member of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences in 1946.
He married Ella Abramovna Beilikhis, a noted historian, in 1937. They have one son, Alexander.
This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.
Il’ja M. Frank died on June 22, 1990.