Russian Academy of Sciences in English in Russian
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A conversation of Academician Alexander MERZHANOV,
Editor-in-Chief Int. J. SHS, with a correspondent of our
webpage Hot News (HN)

HN Now, after incorporation of Allerton Press, Inc. into the holding PLEIADES, your journal will be distributed by the Springer Corporation which is well known worldwide. How do you feel about this change?

A.M. Positively. But first I would like to remind you, in short, of the history of our journal. The idea to publish such a journal came to John Kaiser, President Kaiser Research Co., USA, which had close links with some institutes of the USSR Academy of Sciences. He discussed the idea with Edward Michael, Vice-President Allerton Press, New York, engaged in translating Russian journals and their distribution all over the world. In 1991, Edward and John came to the I International Symposium on SHS held in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan. Edward was greatly impressed by the topics of Symposium, people, spirit of cooperation and without any hesitation suggested to launch an appropriate journal. I immediately agreed and, I think, it was a right decision.

HN Absolutely. And how did you organize the work?

A.M. We selected the Editorial Board among the most authoritative scientists active in SHS and allied fields of research. The main burden was carried by the research workers of our Institute of Structural Macrokinetics (ISMAN). We carried out the referring of submitted papers, their translation into English (if needed), compiled the issues, and dispatched the materials to Allerton Press. The staff in New York corrected our English and performed technical editing. We were proud that our field of research had acquired its own journal, the only one not translated but published by Allerton Press as-submitted. On this occasion, I want to thank Edward for his courage and fruitful work. He possessed fascination and even charm, so that it was a great pleasure to work with him. Although not everything was going on as desired.

HN And what was wrong? If it is not a secret. In our further work, we have to know the previous drawbacks.

A.M. Nothing special. All followed the normal path. But in view of ever increasing number of SHS-related publications, the Journal could not publish all of them. As a result, SHS papers begun to appear in other, higher-rated journals (our Journal was relatively young!). We tried to print our own good papers (reviews, topical papers, etc.), but this did not help. We had to popularize and widely advertise our Journal, get in contact with abstract journals, and show the best papers on the Internet. But Michael did not want to do it, being afraid of a decrease in subscription rates. We urged him that this would not happen but failed to change his mind.

HN But who carried the burden at ISMAN? Did you manage to create a united team?

À.Ì. Sure, we did. A soul of this team was my old friend, Prof. Vadim Barzykin (alas, now late). This honest, reliable, and hard-working person worked gaily and with pleasure. Although it was sometimes difficult to convince him to do something in that or another way. Using our professional terminology, I used to say that Vadim was hard to inflame but burnt well always.

Prof. Rogachev is now responsible for a high scientific level of accepted papers. Dr. Sytschev is our motor and tactician, he is on the leading edge of our 'struggle' with the authors, always makes proper decisions, and works with pleasure.

As for me, I am responsible for strategy of the Journal (define the scope of special issues, invited papers, etc.) and also act as a judge in case of moot points.

Now I would like to answer to your main question concerning the changes. My attitude is not simply positive. In fact, I feel also deep satisfaction and pleasure. This means that our Journal will begin its new life. I believe that all this will benefit to our readers, authors, and publishers. But I think that it is more convenient for you to comment on the details.

HN Sure. I am glad to inform you that Springers' Library of Science has now been expanded with Allerton Press journals. Starting January 2007, the 45 important scientific journals, International Journal of Self-Propagating High-Temperature Synthesis included, from the Allerton Press will be added to SpringerLink (, the state-of-the-art Internet portal of Springer.

These changes open up new opportunities for your Journal, giving a lot of benefits and setting higher level of service. First of all, now the Journal will be published both in print and electronic versions. Second, it allows fast and easy article search, as well as free online access to abstracts and tables of contents. Third and may be the most important fact is that the Journal is included in most prominent scientific databases and journal impact factor will be annually evaluated and published in ISI Journal Citation Report.

Our robust publishing discipline will lead to a significant decrease in the time lap between manuscript submission and its appearance in the Journal, and that is the warranty that journal issues will appear in time without any delay. We will also work hard in order to increase of the scientific level of the published papers by strengthening the peer review process.

À.Ì. It looks quite serious. From our side, we have to establish higher demands on the quality of submitted papers (both scientific and technical), strengthen the staff of referees, resume contacts with organizing committees of SHS symposia, etc. in order to look decent in the family of journals distributed by Springer. As the first step in this direction, we set up the following staff of regional editors.

Europe and Africa
Prof. F. Bernard
LRRS UMR 5613 CNRS/Universite de Bourgogne, 9 Avenue A. Savary, BP 47870-21078 Dijon, France
fax: +33 (0) 3 80 39 61 67, phone: +33 (0) 3 80 39 61 25

North and South America
Prof. A.S. Mukasyan
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Notre Dame, 310 Cushing Hall, Notre Dame, IN, 46556 USA
fax : +(574) 631-8366, phone : +(574) 631-9825

Far East and Australia
Prof. Z. Fu
State Key Laboratory of Advanced Technology for Materials Synthesis and Processing, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan, 430070 China
fax: +86-27-87879468, phone: +86-27-87662983

New Independent States (Former Soviet Union)
Prof. A.S. Rogachev
Institute of Structural Macrokinetics and Materials Science,
Russian Academy of Sciences (ISMAN),
ul. Institutskaya 8, Chernogolovka, Moscow, 142432 Russia
fax : +7(495) 962-8025, phone : +7(495) 962-8034
e-mail :

More detailed information about our regional editors can be found in Int. J. SHS, 2006, vol. 15, no. 1.

À.Ì. Many people consider that it was a good luck for us to work with you. I apologize for this fulsome question, but what is your interest in our Journal? After all Springer is known to be a so big boss in publishing business.

HN When we came across your Journal, the first question was: What is SHS? And we liked the phenomenon. Moreover, we have realized that we may turn of help for you and that our joint efforts may give new life to SHS R & D as a whole. And I am sure we will do it.

Now I know that SHS is based on the phenomenon of solid flame that produces not gases (as in case of gun powders) but valued materials. It is clear for everyone, that this method can be used to produce materials for application in various branches of modern technology, rapidly and cost-effective. As for high quality of products, we rely upon your word. Therefore, your (now our) Journal can be expected to find its readers all over the world. And we are now going to find out proper ways for propagandizing your achievements.

À.Ì. Tremendously simple and clear, thanks. You know, already 40 years has elapsed since the discovery of solid flame phenomenon in 1967.

HN Really! Now it is my turn to be surprised.

À.Ì. Really, it is so. This year we are planning to hold solemn ceremony on this occasion under the aegis of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Research Center in Chernogolvka.

HN For all that, 40 years seem impressive. Could you describe in short what has been done over these years?

À.Ì. I will try. We overcome our path along the line 'scientific discovery—basic research—applied research—research and development—industrial-scale implementation—professional training—commercialization—appearance of SHS community worldwide'. Faithfully, this is quite a lot for such a time period as 40 years.

HN Could you describe, in your professional language, which benefits did the solid flame phenomenon and SHS give to science and technology. It seems necessary to do for elevating the intellectual level of our interview which we agreed to publish in the Journal.

À.Ì. Although it is difficult, I will nevertheless try.

(1) The solid flame phenomenon closely linked the combustion science and materials science. Material engineers have got used to pronounce the world 'combustion' without fear that something will burn down while experts in combustion, the jaw-breaking words 'materials science'. New directions of research (and terms) have sprung, such as material-forming combustion and materials science of combustion products. A new scientific discipline, termed structural macrokinetics, has begun to investigate combustion processes together with the dynamics of products formation.

(2) Found and investigated were new, earlier unknown phenomena taking place during combustion (spinning waves, capillary spreading, planar infiltration-mediated waves, etc.), suggested new conceptions of combustion mechanism (gas-free combustion, infiltration-mediated combustion, unsteady propagation of flame, propagation of discrete waves, kind II waves, etc.), suggested 3D models of unsteady combustion, detected the deterministic and non-deterministic motions of hot spots in non-linear reactions. These findings gave second wind to the theory of combustion which suffered (in the 70s) the crisis of ideas.

(3) A newly developed SHS method opened up new horizons for synthesis of inorganic compounds and materials. In this way, above 1000 compounds and materials have been synthesized (some for the first time, some with new properties). Synthesis conditions have been optimized. New accompanying phenomena (self-purification of combustion products, anisotropic effect) were found and new combustion reactions have been classified.

(4) An alternative technology based on utilization of internal heat produced by chemical reactions has been suggested. The slogan 'combustion instead of external heating' has become popular. Above 30 material-saving and environment-friendly SHS processes for manufacturing powder, porous, compact, etc. materials, deposition of coatings, and welding hard-to-join materials have been elaborated. A number of pilot-scale production lines were set up. The industrialization of SHS get started: several plants have been built for production of ceramic powders, nitrided ferroalloys, and tubes with inner wear-resistant coating for transportation of abrasive media. Despite difficulties, some SHS products have already appeared on the market. The industrialization and commercialization of SHS are in progress.

(5) Arose the SHS community worldwide. International Symposia on SHS are being held (this year, the IÕ Symposium will be in France), and our Journal will hopefully continue its life. In October 2007, we are planning to organize the International Conference on the History of SHS in different countries (with award ceremonies) dedicated to the 40th Anniversary of SHS.

HN Thanks for the conversation. Hopefully it will be interesting to our readers.

January 26, 2007