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Vladimir Il’ich Talanov

In Memoriam: Vladimir Il’ich Talanov, 1933-2020

May 24, 2020

Vladimir Il’ich Talanov, a pioneer in optical physics, died on 24 May 2020 at age 86 in Nizhny Novgorod (formerly Gorky), Russia. He brought great understanding to the early stages of the development of non-linear optics.

Shortly after the laser was discovered in 1960, second harmonic generation was observed, followed by a plethora of other discoveries in non-linear optics including stimulated light scattering. Talanov and colleagues in Gorky proposed that self-action effects arising from elastic third-order nonlinearities could play a significant role in the propagation of beams and pulses of light. Their work was paralleled by contributions from diverse groups worldwide including ones led by Charles Townes at MIT and Berkeley and Nicolaas Bloembergen at Harvard. Talanov helped usher in a new and important area of non-linear optics by publishing seminal papers on the theory of self-trapping and self-focusing in 1964 and 1965. In 1970, he, together with N. G. Bondarenko and I. V. Eremina, reported on observations of self-focusing leading to self-phase modulation and super-broadening (white-light generation) of short pulses of 1.06 mm radiation.  The impact of temporal self-action effects includes the development of frequency metrology and ultrafast science including high energy laser pulse generation. Spatial self-action affects the design of lasers for fusion and other high-power applications.

Talanov was born in Gorky on 9 June 1933. He graduated from Lobachevsky University in Gorky in 1955. He obtained a PhD in 1959 at the same institution under the supervision of M. A. Miller while also working as a research staff at the Research Institute of Radio Physics. In 1977, he became head of the Department of Non-linear Oscillations and Waves at the Institute of Applied Physics of the USSR Academy of Sciences, and later the head of the Division of Hydrophysics and Hydroacoustics. After receiving a Doctor of Science degree in 1967, he rose in academic rank at Lobachevsky University becoming a full professor in 1971 and a distinguished professor in 2008. He also held the Electrodynamics Chair  in the Radiophysics Department from 1973 until 2002. He was elected a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1987 and a full member in 1992. In 1988, he received the Lenin Prize for his work on self-focusing.

Talanov published more than 160 articles in the fields of electrodynamics, quasi-optics, non-linear optics, hydrophysics, and coherent seismo-acoustics. He published, with S. N. Vlasov, the book “Self-focusing of waves”.

He is survived by his wife, Nadezhda Talanova (nee Vvedenskaya), born in 1939; his son Vladimir, born in 1967; his daughter Lyudmila, born in 1976; and three grandchildren. Professor Talanov enjoyed the outdoors and travelled to many wilderness areas in Russia. He liked camping, fishing, hiking, and skiing as well as white-water kayaking and rafting.