Lev Pitaevskii

Lev Petrovich Pitaevskii (Russian: Лев Петро́вич Пита́евский [ˈlʲɛf pʲɪˈtrovʲɪtɕ pʲɪˈtajɪfskʲɪj]; born 1933) is a Russian theoretical physicist, who made contributions to the theory of quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, low-temperature physics, plasma physics, and condensed matter physics. Together with Evgeny Lifshitz and Vladimir Berestetskii, Lev Pitaevskii has also been the co-author of a few volumes of the influential Landau–Lifschitz Course of Theoretical Physics series. His academic status is professor.

Lev Pitaevskii
Born (1933-01-18) January 18, 1933
Alma materSaratov State University
Known forGross–Pitaevskii equation, Superfluidity, Course of Theoretical Physics
Scientific career
FieldsTheoretical physics
InstitutionsMoscow Institute of Physics and Technology, University of Trento, Israel Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisorLev Landau


Pitaevskii was born on January 18, 1933, in Saratov.

He graduated from Saratov State University in 1955. In 1958 he joined the staff of the Institute of Physical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In 1971 he became a professor at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.


Collaborating with Vitaly Ginzburg, Pitaevskii developed a theory of superfluidity in the neighborhood of a transition point. He showed that, at sufficiently low temperatures, liquid helium-3 should undergo a transition to the superfluid state.

Lev Pitaevskii was educated at the Landau school in Moscow. He was a PhD student of Lev Landau and during the first years of his scientific activity at the Institute for Physical Problems (now Kapitza Institute), he made contributions to the theory of condensed matter physics, including the most celebrated paper on quantized vortices where he developed what is now called the Gross–Pitaevskii theory of Bose–Einstein condensates, one of the theories more systematically used to describe the physics of ultracold atomic gases nowadays. Another famous paper was written in collaboration with Igor E. Dzyaloshinsky and Evgeny Lifshitz on the van der Waals forces where the theory of the thermal and quantum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field was developed in a systematic way with important implications on modern applications to solid state physics and atomic physics.

Lev Pitaevskii started collaborating with the University of Trento at the end of the 1980s through a series of long term visits. After a few years spent at the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa he eventually became professor of Trento University in 1998. Since then he is working in the Trento BEC team, a joint initiative of the Italian National Institute of Optics (part of CNR) in Italy and of the Physics Department of the University of Trento where is currently carrying out his scientific activity.

Honors and awards

  • 1980 – Landau Prize in recognition of his research in plasma physics,
  • 2008 – Landau Gold Medal in recognition of his contributions to modern theoretical physics, including the theory of Bose condensation of the Gross–Pitaevskii and for his contribution to the writing of new and previously unreleased update parts of the world-famous course in theoretical physics Landau–Lifshitz.


Books and monographs

See Course of Theoretical Physics for his contributions to that series.

  • L. P. Pitaevskii, S. Stringari (2016). Bose-Einstein Condensation and Superfluidity. International Series of Monographs on Physics. Oxford University Press. p. 576. ISBN 9780198758884.



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