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Joffe, Abraham Feodorovich

JOFFE, ABRAHAM FEODOROVICH (1880–1960), Russian physicist. Joffe was born in Romny, Ukraine. Between 1907 and 1913, he conducted intensive research on the quantum theory of light. In 1913 he was appointed professor extraordinary of physics at the Polytechnic Institute, an appointment only open to baptized Jews. In 1915, the Institute made him a full professor, and he received the prize of the Academy of Sciences. After the Bolshevik revolution, he and M. Nemnov founded the Roentgenological and Radiological Institute, out of which was born the Physical-Technical Institute of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. In 1919, Joffe opened and became dean of a Physical-Mechanics department. In 1921, while visiting Berlin, he met Einstein, who was sympathetic to Zionism. In their discussion, Joffe favored assimilation as the solution to the Jewish problem.

In 1932, Joffe initiated the opening of an Institute for Metal Physics in the Urals, and founded an Agrophysics Institute in Leningrad. In 1933, he helped to found a Physical-Technical Institute at Dnepropetrovsk, with a large laboratory for technical radiological examinations. Joffe edited several scientific journals and in 1958 founded the journal of the physics of solids.

Joffe's main scientific work belongs to three fields: the mechanical properties of crystals; the electrical properties of dielectric crystals; and semiconductors. His most important works are Fizika poluprovodnikov (19572; The Physics of Semi-Conductors, 1960), which was translated into many languages, and Osnovnye predstavleniya sovremennoy fiziki ("Basic Concepts of Modern Physics," 1949). Joffe received many honors including election to the presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union. In 1942 he joined the Communist Party.