Biographical Sketch of I. Nowik
Reprinted from the March 2006 edition of the Mössbauer Spectroscopy Newsletter, published as part of Volume 29, Issue 3 of the Mössbauer Effect Reference and Data Journal

Professor Israel Nowik was born January 8, 1938, in Pinsk (then Poland, later USSR, today Belarus). In 1941, at the start of the Second World War in Russia, he was exiled with his family (parents, sister, and brother) to Siberia, where his father was forced to work in stone mines. They were later released and moved to warm Uzbekistan. They returned to liberated Pinsk in 1944, to Poland (Lodz) in 1945, and to Germany (Berlin) in 1946, and immigrated to the just-established state of Israel in 1949.

His thorough early education he obtained by attending first grade four times, in four different languages: Polish school in Uzbekistan (1943/1944), Russian school in Russia (1944/1945), Yiddish school in Poland (1945/1946), and Hebrew school in Germany (1946/1947). He served in the Israeli Army during 1955-1956, and then started his studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He got his Ms.c. in 1960 in Physics (thesis in nuclear physics) and Mathematics, and started his Ph.D. thesis in Mössbauer spectroscopy (MS) under the guidance of the late Shimon Ofer (deceased in 1983). The subject of the thesis was “Investigation of Nuclear Moments and Internal Fields Acting on Nuclei of Rare Earth Elements Using the Mössbauer Effect.” This subject remained one of his major interests later in his career. In the Ph.D. thesis the Mössbauer isotopes Eu151, Dy160, Dy161, and Tm169 were used to determine nuclear moments and hyperfine interactions. In parallel he performed theoretical research, resulting in his first publications: Phys. Rev. 126, 1878 (1962) and Phys. Rev. 130, 1361 (1963). Mössbauer spectroscopy was started in Jerusalem by S. G. Cohen and S. Ofer in 1959, and Nowik was the first graduate student in this field.

In 1960 Israel Nowik married Rivka Rosmarin, Doctor of Psychology. Two sons were born, Samuel in 1961, now in Computer Science, and Tahl in 1966, now Professor of Mathematics.

In 1961, Rudolf Mössbauer arrived in Jerusalem directly from the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm. This was the first acquaintance of the student Nowik with Mössbauer, the person. Professor Nowik finished his Ph.D. in 1963, and moved to the Soreq Research Establishment in Yavne, Israel, where Mössbauer spectroscopy had just begun.


From left to right: G. Kaindl, G. K. Wertheim, I. Nowik, R. Nowik, and U. Kaindl, in Münich 1987. 

In 1964 he arrived at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, USA, to join the group of G. K. Wertheim, which included R. L. Cohen and also the just arrived H. H. Wickmann. At BTL he made major contributions to the understanding of spin relaxation in insulating and metallic, paramagnetic, and magnetically ordered rare earth compounds. An extended review of this research appeared in the book Chemical Applications of Mössbauer Spectroscopy, edited by V. I. Goldanskii and R. H. Herber and published by Academic Press in 1968. In later years (1974, 1976, and 1977), visits to BTL included also X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) studies of the materials studied by MS.

In 1966 he moved to Yale University, where he was appointed an Assistant Professor with a five-year senior track position, to establish a Mössbauer research laboratory. In the first year, with little equipment to do experimental work, he devoted his time to theoretical research in magnetism: canted spins in rare earth garnets.

In 1967, following the victory of Israel in the Six-Day War, Nowik moved with his family back to Jerusalem. He joined forces with S. Ofer, E. R. Bauminger, and S. G. Cohen to extend Mössbauer research of magnetism of rare earth compounds to the new fields of actinide isotopes, anisotropic recoil free fraction, valence fluctuation phenomena, and biology. The pioneer discoveries of intermediate valence of europium in EuCu2Si2 (1973) and bound diffusion of iron in biological macromolecules (1980) opened new fields of research.


Nowik commenting at one of the early Mössbauer conferences.
Professor Nowik was promoted to Associate Professor of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1971 and to Professor in 1975, and in the years 1978-1981 served as Chairman of Physics Studies.

In the summer of 1970, Israel Nowik stayed for four months with R. L. Mössbauer in Münich (with later stays in the summers of 1985, 1986, and 1987). That summer the Garching Institute swarmed with young people who are today prominent MS scientists – to mention only a few: F. Wagner, G. Wortmann, G. Parak, visitor A. Vertes, and M. Kalvius, who had just arrived from Argonne to occupy a position in Münich. Collaboration with M. Kalvius was started, which lasted for many years. The common subjects of interest were the rare earths and the actinides.

In 1972-1973, Professor Nowik spent his sabbatical year in Argonne National Laboratory, where he collaborated with B. D. Dunlap in studying 237Np in neptunium intermetallic compounds. In the following years the actinide research continued in collaboration with J. Gal from the Nuclear Research Center-Negev. In 1976-1977, he spent a sabbatical year at Columbia University in New York, where he collaborated with David Paul in the research of amorphous magnetic materials and later in strong cobalt-rare earth magnetic materials.

In 1986, following the discovery of high Tc superconductivity, Professor Nowik and his colleagues I. Felner and E. R. Bauminger started to be involved in Mössbauer research of these new systems, of great interest to this day.

In 1980, Israel visited G. Kaindl and G. Wortmann in Berlin (later visits occurred in the summers of 1981, 1982, 1983, 1991, and 2005), and a long-lasting collaboration started with both in the fields of valence fluctuations, magnetism, and superconductivity. In 1989-1990, the year of the fall of the Berlin wall, Professor Nowik spent his sabbatical in Berlin, sharing an office with an early prominent Mössbauer spectroscopy researcher, D. Shirley. During that year Nowik collaborated with G. Kaindl in high Tc superconductivity research, using both XPS and MS research methods.

D. Shirley and I. Nowik  “destroying” the Berlin wall (1989).

In 1994, R. H. Herber retired from Rutgers University to join the Jerusalem Mössbauer group at the Racah Institute of Physics. Very fruitful collaboration started between Professors Nowik and Herber in the fields of iron- and tin-containing organometallics, Eu valence fluctuations, and hexavalent iron compounds.

Professor Nowik has published more than 300 papers, 13 review papers, and has coauthored four books. He was coeditor of the Hyperfine Interactions Volume 33 (1987) dedicated to the memory of his teachers, and later colleagues, Solly G. Cohen and Shimon Ofer. He holds a U.S. patent, 4742340, for a “Method and Apparatus for Detecting Counterfeit Articles,” using the Mössbauer effect. He is presently the Israeli representative to IBAME, and has been in the top ten in the MEDC Mössbauer Century Club since it was first published. 

Professor Nowik taught during the years thousands of students in elementary and advanced courses in Physics. Worth mentioning are “Magnetism of Solids,” which he taught also at Columbia University, New York, during the academic year of 1976-1977, and “Nuclear Techniques in Solid State Physics,” taught at Yale (1966-1967) and Columbia (1976-1977).

The teachers and colleagues of Nowik. From left to right: F. Bloch, S. G. Cohen, S. Ofer, R. L. Mössbauer, I. Nowik, E. R. Bauminger, R. H. Herber and I. Felner.

The major subjects of research, with references to pioneer or important papers, are:

  • Hyperfine interactions and magnetism in a vast variety of compounds using the isotopes 57Fe, 119Sn, 127I, 129I, 145Nd, 149Sm, 152Sm, 151Eu, 153Eu, 155Gd, 156Gd, 157Gd, 160Dy, 161Dy, 166Er, 169Tm, 170Yb, and 237Np.
  • Spin relaxation in paramagnetic and magnetically ordered systems. Physics Letters 11, 205 (1964), Phys. Rev. Letters 17, 949 (1966).
  • Magnetism, hyperfine interactions, and exchange interactions in Eu3+ compounds. Phys. Rev. 153, 409 (1967), J. Magn. Magn. Mater. 30, 295 (1983).
  • Theory of canted spin systems, applied to garnets. Phys. Rev. 171, 550 (1968), J. Appl. Phys. 40, 5184 (1969), Phys. Lett. 29A, 328 (1969).
  • Goldanskii effect in several isotopes of rare earth compounds. Phys. Lett. 44A, 279 (1973), Solid State Commun. 15, 543 (1974).
  • Intermediate valence and valence fluctuations in rare earth systems. Phys. Rev. Lett. 30, 1053 (1973), Phys. Rev. Lett. 33, 890 (1974), Phys. Rev. B 33, 617 (1986), Phys. Rev. B 59, 8732 (1999).
  • Magnetism of actinides. Phys. Rev. B 8, 1901 (1973), Phys. Rev. B 10, 1011 (1974).
  • Origin and character of transferred magnetic hyperfine fields. Solid State Comm. 9, 1885 (1971), Phys. Rev. B 7, 4332 (1973).
  • Magnetic anisotropy and spin reorientations. Phys. Rev. Lett. 28, 244 (1972), Phys. Rev. B 7, 4220 (1973).
  • Theory and experiments of magnetostriction effects at magnetic and spin reorientation phase transitions. J. Magn. Magn. Mater. 12, 149 (1979), J. Magn. Magn. Mater. 12, 162 (1979), J. Magn. Magn. Mater. 22, 239 (1981).
  • Multiple magnetic phase transitions in Mn compounds detected by an iron nonmagnetic probe. J. Magn. Magn. Mater. 147, 373 (1995).
  • Theory and experiments of dynamics in macromolecules and biological systems. Phys. Rev. Lett. 45, 2128 (1980), Phys. Rev. Lett. 50, 1528 (1983), Phys. Rev. A 31, 2291 (1985).
  • High Tc superconductors. Phys. Rev. B 38, 6677 (1988).
  • Magneto-superconductors. Phys. Rev. B 70, 094504 (2005), Phys. Rev. B 71, 064510 (2005).
  • Anisotropic vibrational modes in organometallics. Inorg. Chim. Acta 310, 191 (2000), Inorg. Chem. 44, 5629 (2005).
  • The properties of hexavalent iron compounds. J. Phys. Chem. Solids 66, 1307 (2005), J. Electrochem. Soc. 153, A32 (2006).

Finally, Nowik was also a ”professional” Table Tennis player from an early age. He played in top league teams and tournaments until his late forties. In 1965, he even won the Bell Telephone Laboratories Championship!


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