Kazan Federal University

26-year-old Mikhail Yagofarov becomes youngest ever doctor of science in the history of Kazan University

Mikhail Yagofarov, Associate Professor of the Department of Physical Chemistry, Senior Researcher of the Laboratory of Ultrafast Calorimetry, defended his doctoral thesis at the Institute of Organic and Physical Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The title of his work was New approaches to the study of temperature dependences of thermodynamic functions of phase transitions of organic non-electrolytes. The official opponents were prominent experts in physical chemistry: Vice-Rector for Research of the Belarusian State University Andrei Blokhin, Director of the Krestov Institute of Solution Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences Mikhail Kiselyov, and Head of the Laboratory of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry of the Kurnakov Institute of General and Inorganic Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences Konstantin Gavrichev. Nizhny Novgorod State University was the curating institution.

In his paper, Yagofarov summarized eight years of research into the effect of temperature on the heat of fusion, evaporation, sublimation and saturated vapor pressure of organic compounds. These values, he said, are widely used by industrial chemists in planning such processes as distillation, vapor-phase precipitation, and in calculating the conditions for reactions in the gas phase. For their determination it is usually necessary to perform labor-intensive experiments. At the same time, thousands of new compounds are synthesized every year.

“Experimental measurements of the characteristics of phase transitions in such a volume are impossible to perform. Therefore, it is of interest to develop predictive approaches. Within the framework of the thesis work such approaches were created, and for aromatic, heteroaromatic, aliphatic, alkylaromatic derivatives their application allows us to obtain the heat of vaporization, sublimation, melting and saturated vapor pressures with an accuracy comparable to modern experimental methods,” said the scientist.

The creation of such approaches, according to Yagofarov, means that the patterns in the relationship between the thermodynamic parameters of phase transitions of organic substances and their physical properties and molecular structure have become much clearer, which is an important fundamental result.

Yagofarov has been working on the topic since 2016. It was suggested by his teacher, Olympiad mentor (he joined the Olympiad movement at the age of 13), and now Yagofarov’s scientific advisor, Boris Solomonov, Consultant Professor at the Department of Physical Chemistry.

“His approach to work, interest and enthusiasm served as the best example and inspiration for me. He called me even after the defense and shared his thoughts on the new research related to the thermodynamics of complexation,” commented Dr Solomonov.

Initially the question of temperature dependence of enthalpies of melting of organic compounds was studied. Yagofarov PhD thesis covered this topic.

The problem, Mikhail believes, is paradoxical, but no less important. Over time, the scientist managed to cover the processes of vaporization and sublimation of organic compounds.

“The fact that chemical substances can exist in three aggregate states: crystalline, liquid and gaseous, is known to everyone. Every day we are faced with the processes of vaporization, melting, and many probably had a question: what determines the conditions of transition from one aggregate state to another and what are the differences between, for example, water, ethanol and acetone? I think the paradoxical nature and commonality of the issues addressed in the thesis were the main stimulus for the work,” he said.

Yagofarov also emphasized that preparing a dissertation is quite a time-consuming process, including at the stage when all the research has already been done and it is necessary to summarize it and prepare documents.

“The most difficult thing for me was to write a literature review. The research topic is very general and the objectives are ambitious. The literature review should be relevant to the objectives and concise enough. Writing such a review helped systematize my ideas about the thesis topic that I have accumulated over the course of my work,” he commented.

Yagofarov advises those who are planning to start working on a doctoral dissertation or preparing a diploma to take a disciplined approach.

“When working on a big project, there is often a desire to take a break, to rest, because one day will not change anything. But, perhaps, the result is largely the result of not taking breaks,” he concluded.

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