The interview with Viktor Ivanovich Smirnov. In 1985−2007, he was the head of the Electrotechnological Department of the Laboratory of Nuclear Problems (LNP). Viktor Ivanovich had worked at the Laboratory for almost 60 years, since 1961. In 1979, he was assigned to the position of deputy head of the Electrotechnological Department, and in 1985, he became its head. He headed the department till 2007. He retired in 2019 as a leading engineer.



Thanks to his wide experience and deep knowledge in electrotechnology, Viktor Ivanovich, although already retired, helps his colleagues in solving complex engineering problems. In 2020, the invention “Resonant capacitor charger” of the DLNP scientists Sergey Nikolaevich Dolya and Viktor Ivanovich Smirnov was shortlisted in Top 100 best inventions in Russia in the second half of the year 2020.

In 1960―1970, Viktor Ivanovich worked hard adjusting and upgrading electrotechnical equipment of the LNP synchrocyclotron. That was a tough job.

V. I. Smirnov recollects, “The accelerator operated above six thousand hours per year (the record was about 6700 hours), round the clock, with six-hour breaks on Tuesdays and Fridays. Since 1956, Nikolay Grigorevich Shakun, the head of the “Phasotron Department”, has been the keeper of the log with the accelerator operating time schedule. Beam time was distributed among experimental groups at sessions of the LNP Science and Technology Council, and, figuratively speaking, physicists fought for this time. Moreover, in the early 1960s, the synchrocyclotron was upgraded by employees from the Department of the Synchrocyclotron (DS), the Design Department, the Electrotechnological Department and the LNP Experimental Workshop under the guidance of the LNP chief engineer Boris Ivanovich Zamolodchikov and the DS head Vladimir Ivanovich Danilov, which significantly increased the accelerator efficiency. As a result, beam intensity and extraction efficiency were enhanced, a meson target was installed, a probe to produce isotopes assembled, a new frequency variator mounted, as well as a meson channel of several tens of electromagnetic lenses and electromagnets which directed a meson beam to Laboratory 4. Physicists from the Kurchatov Institute worked at one of the facilities. They used ultrastrong magnetic fields of about 200 kG in their research. There was a powerful capacitor bank of pulse capacitors with voltage of 3 kV and also 14 ignitron switching tubes on the ground floor of the main hall of building 1. A few seconds were needed to charge the capacitors, and just fractions of a second to discharge them into a coil generating an ultrastrong magnetic field.

Additional building 2 was constructed with an experimental hall and a meson channel led in. There were also electrophysical facilities there. Power sources of the meson channel were mounted in their machine hall. On the first floor, there was experimental electrophysical equipment. Over these years, several buildings were constructed ― the building for the Experimental Department of Nuclear Spectroscopy and Radiochemistry, building 108 for the Experimental Department of New Accelerators, building 105 for manufacturing phasotron magnet windings, building 4 which was handed over to the newly established Laboratory of Computing Techniques and Automation.

In early July 1979, the synchrocyclotron was shut down to be upgraded. By that time, building 3 (a building-1 extension) and building 6 for the water-cooling system were erected, and the construction of building 4 was almost completed. At the time, workers from one of “Elektrosila” plants (Leningrad) manufactured windings for the phasotron electromagnet in building 105. Employees of the Institute of Electrophysical Apparatus (IEA, Leningrad) calibrated a high-frequency modulator for the load equivalent, and also some phasotron units were manufactured. Staff members of the Experimental Department of New Accelerators developed and produced advanced, more compact and reliable accelerator control system units to replace those earlier designed by IEA.”