[Obituary] Yevgeny Mitrofanovich Kuleshov

KuleshovYevgeny Mitrofanovich Kuleshov, IEEE Microwave Pioneer and one of the founding fathers of the Ukrainian and USSR quasi-optics of short-millimeter and sub-millimeter waves, died on the 9-th February 2016 in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Born on February 21, 1922 in Voronezh, Russia, he graduated, in 1946, from the radio-engineering faculty of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute (KPI, now National Technical University of Ukraine “KPI”). In 1949-1955, Yevgeny M. Kuleshov worked in the Ukrainian Institute of Physics and Technology (UIPT) in Kharkiv, where he became head of laboratory in 1953. When that laboratory branched off UIPT in 1955, he became head of receiving and measurement (later quasi-optics) department at new Institute of Radio-Physics and Electronics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (IRE NASU) until 1988. At the early stage, he designed and developed various general-purpose devices and circuits of the millimeter-wave range (wavelength from 1 to 10 mm) on the basis of standard rectangular waveguide. This became his contribution to the complex work of IRE NASU scientists awarded in 1960 with the Lenin Prize, the highest technical prize in the USSR. In fact, all early buildings of IRE NASU were built by 1959 thanks to massive research funding of his laboratory.

However the necessity of mastering even shorter, sub-millimeter wavelength range was obviously not compatible with a further use of the hollow-waveguide technology. Therefore in the late 1950s and mid-1960s, the innovative work of Yevgeny M. Kuleshov broke ground on development a wideband quasi-optical components and circuits working in the 0.1 to 2 mm wavelength range. At the early stage, he had only one however extremely wealthy customer. This was the department of hot plasma diagnostics in the Tokamak thermonuclear fusion machines developed at the Institute of Atomic Energy in Moscow. In the heart of all quasi-optical components was innovative idea of the hollow dielectric beam-waveguide (HDB) technology. In 1972, after a long struggle with secrecy-overwhelmed USSR bureaucracy, it was patented by eight Kharkiv inventors including Kuleshov. HDB had the form of a wide (dozen of wavelengths and more) dielectric tube with the air in the inner channel, encased into a metal cover. The inner surface of the HDB dielectric lining had triangular longitudinal ribs having depth smaller than half-wavelength. In comparison to various other waveguides, the cross-sectional dimension of HDB is larger as compared with the wavelength, and the dielectric lining has relatively large loss tangent (typically around 0.1) and sizable thickness. All this results in a specific “self-filtering effect”: the higher-order modes of HDB propagate with significant losses and only the principal HE_11 mode keeps low attenuation.

Yevgeny M. Kuleshov held the USSR titles of Honorary Inventor (1978), Honorary Radio Engineer (1980), and was awarded, as team member, with Lenin Prize (1960) and, as team leader, State Prize of Ukraine (1972). Worth noting is that the latter prize was awarded entirely for the development of the pioneering HDB technology. In 1988, Kuleshov retired from the post of department’s head however continued active and fruitful work at IRE NASU, as a senior scientist. At that time his research interests shifted to the application of HDB technology in several promising civilian and defense-oriented areas such as materials testing and radar-cross-section measurements. When Ukraine became independent nation in 1992, the smoke of secrecy around microwave research started getting taken away by fresh winds. The Tokamak studies in Moscow lost their top priority and actually stopped as extremely expensive. Such a change allowed, eventually, Kuleshov’s team to start publishing their results in international technical journals and became internationally visible.

These new circumstances quickly led to remarkable recognition. In 2000, Yevgeny M. Kuleshov was awarded the IEEE Microwave Pioneer Award, with citation “For development of a hollow-ribbed dielectric beamguide technology and quasi-optical measuring techniques of the short-millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelength ranges.” One should be reminded that IEEE Microwave Pioneer Award is considered as being much higher that, for instance, the IEEE Fellow grade because every year around ten MTT Society members are elected Fellows however the Microwave Pioneer is either one or none at all. Before Kuleshov’s success, the Pioneer Award was granted to the scientists from the USA and (a few times only) from Japan however not to any European. Therefore Ukrainian microwave community can be proud of that achievement as a token of high recognition of its contribution to the service to humanity.

It is worth noting that Yevgeniy M. Kuleshov continued working as a leading scientist at his department till the very end. In 2013, when his former student and the head of this department died at the age of 65, Kuleshov had the courage and strength to take responsibility of important research project of the FP-7 Program. The project was dealing with HDB technology applied to the testing of Carbon-Fiber-Reinforced-Plastic materials used in the Airbus industry. In 2015, he received the Honorary Mention signed by the President of NASU, for the fruitful work and significant contributions to the radio physics and electronics.

It should be also noted that Yevgeny M. Kuleshov was always a loyal member and supporter of all activities of the IEEE MTT Society in Kharkiv and Ukraine. He joined the Society in 1996 and was elevated to Senior Membership in 1999. In 2001-2002, he served as elected Chairman of the IEEE Ukraine Section (East) Joint Chapter, the largest in Ukraine. This was s crucial time in chapter’s life because of difficult transition to annual elections of its committee by secret ballot, and Kuleshov’s authority, decency, common sense, and also sense of humor helped greatly in this transition. In 2010, he was granted the status of IEEE Life Senior Member, in recognition of many years of both technical work and volunteering.

Y. M. Kuleshov passed away at the age of 94 in a good sense. His last words were “my bolt is shot.” He was survived by his daughter and son, two grandchildren, and two grand-grandchildren. Ukrainian microwave community has lost a remarkable scientist and valued colleague, the founder of quasi-optics department and one of the founding fathers of IRE NASU. Our hearts and prayers go out to him.