IFIN-HH Horia Hulubei National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering - IFIN HH
... where the first Romanian computer was made (1955)


Brief History

The Institute of Physics of the Romanian Academy was established in Bucharest September 1, 1949. Its founding father, Horia Hulubei (1896-1972), had earned his doctor's degree in Paris under Nobel Prize winners Jean Perrin and Marie Curie. Hulubei was a member of both the Romanian and French academies and had become world famous for his outstanding results in various areas of physics, including RAMAN, X rays, Compton, atomic and nuclear physics, and the identification of element 87 in the periodic table. He had also gained a reputation for skilful research management while serving as a directeur de la recherche at Perrin's laboratory.

In 1956, the Physics Institute of the Academy split into an Institute of Atomic Physics (IFA), located at Magurele, outside Bucharest, under Hulubei's direction, and the Bucharest Institute of Physics (IFB), based at the Faculty of Physics of the Bucharest University.

On Hulubei's initiative and with his direct support, IFA specialists designed their first electronic computer, a premiere in the Soviet bloc countries, in 1956. The first device, CIFA1, working at a rate of 50 instructions per second, was put into operation a year later.

That same year a VVRS fission reactor and a U120 cyclotron, both of Soviet make, were put into service on the IFA site, at Magurele.

The first Romanian laser, a He-Ne infrared device developed by Professor Ion I. Agarbiceanu and his team, came on stream October 20, 1962. A few months on, the achievement was reported at the 3rd Quantum Electronic Congress that was held in Paris in February 1963.

Ioan Ursu, pro-rector of Babes-Bolyai University and head of the Nuclear Physics and Electromagnetism Division at the Cluj Faculty of Physics, was appointed director of IFA, as Hulubei retired in 1968. He continued and expanded his predecessor's concepts. Under his guidance, IFA spearheaded the introduction of nuclear energetics in Romania.

The Central Institute of Physics (ICEFIZ) was created in 1973 as an umbrella institution incorporating IFA, IFB, and anything throughout the country that had to do with physical research and education, including a factory of nuclear devices and a heavy water facility.

In 1974, an FN tandem accelerator (upgraded later to 9MV) was brought in from HVEC of the U.S., and a radioisotope production center, the result of a cooperation between local researchers and Britain's General Electric Co. and Nuclear Enterprises, was established at Magurele. Also, a nuclear waste processing and storage center from Fairey Engineering, U.K., was installed.

As ICEFIZ was overhauled in 1977, IFA and IFB merged into the Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering (IFIN, now IFIN-HH), with Professor Florin Ciorascu as director. At the same time, new institutes specializing in nuclear reactors, materials technology, radiation devices, space sciences, earth physics, seismology, etc., mushroomed around it on the Magurele site. In June 1977, Marin Ivascu was appointed as director general of ICEFIZ.

In the period from 1977 to 1990, IFIN and the other ICEFIZ institutes played an important role in promoting the commercial use of advanced technologies such as ionic nitration - a coating that extended 46-fold the lifetime of mechanical devices on which it was applied - vacuum pumps and systems, electron beam welding, and thin film deposition in vacuum.

ICEFIZ was replaced in 1990 by an expanded IFA, which aside from IFIN included all of the Magurele institutes: IFTM-materials physics and technology; IFTAR-physics and technology of radiation devices; IGSS-gravity and space sciences; IOEL-optoelectronics; and CFPS-earth physics and seismology. Other physical research institutes around the country, dealing with criogenics and isotope separation (Ramnicu Valcea), technical physics (Iasi), and isotope and molecular technology (Cluj), also became part of IFA.

IFIN and several other institutes of physics were separately accredited as national institutes in 1996. On the occasion, IFIN was renamed as the Horia Hulubei National Institute of Research and Development in Physics and Nuclear Engineering (IFIN-HH).

In 2000, a multipurpose high-dose, gamma-ray irradiator (IRASM) went into operation at IFIN-HH.

A year on, IDRANAP, a Center for Inter-disciplinary Research and Applications based on Nuclear and Atomic Physics was set up. Acknowledged as a center of excellence of the European Commission, it specialized in applying nuclear methods to areas such as the study of environmental pollutants, biology and medical sciences, materials characterization, and so on.

A succession of directors, including Gheorghe Pascovici, Mircea Oncescu, Valeriu Zoran, Gheorghe Mateescu, Mihai Petrovici, and Emilian Dragulescu, headed the Institute in the years from 1990 to 2004. Nicolae Victor Zamfir took over as director general of IFIN-HH in the summer 2004.

The research infrastructure of IFIN-HH has continuously developed in order to become a representative Romanian institute for the 21st century physics at European and international level, in fundamental and applied nuclear physics.

In this regard, the "Large Capacities Programme - Infrastructure Development for frontier research in Nuclear Physics and related fields" (Financing Contract no. 7 PM / 29.10.2008), provided IFIN-HH a standard which is similar to other important institutes worldwide, promoting competitive research in an international context.

The objectives of the Large Capacities Programme were divided into eight sub-projects, integrated in the following three main areas of activity:

  1. The development of RDI infrastructure in nuclear physics;
  2. Applications of nuclear technologies;
  3. Supporting the participation in large international projects.

The implemented components of the programme are:

  • FAIR - Laboratory for developing and testing methods related to international project FAIR / NUSTAR (RO @ NUSTAR)
  • TANDIMED - Radiocarbon center for environmental and biosciences
  • TRITIULAB - Tritium laboratory with multiple users
  • EMMAS - Center of nuclear spectrometry for energy, environment, materials and health
  • CCR - Research centre for radiopharmaceuticals
  • CEXMECDIF - Research center of excellence for distributed computing, methodical, physics and participation in large international collaborations
  • CLSRMA - Local center for radiological environmental surveillance
  • LNSP - Development of underground laboratory for measurement and detection in ultra-low background of atmospheric muons.


    Horia Hulubei (1896 - 1972)

    Contribution to the study of quantum diffusion of X-rays
    (Ph.D. Thesis, Paris, 1933).
    Supervisor: Jean Perrin (Nobel Prize).
    Chairman: Marie Curie (Nobel Prize).
    Founder and First Director of the Institute.
    Serban Titeica (1908 - 1985)

    On the behaviour of electric resistence of metals in magnetic field
    (Ph.D. Thesis, Leipzig, 1934).
    Supervisor: Werner Heisenberg (Nobel Prize).
    First Scientific Director of our Institute.
    Ioan Ursu (1928 - 2007)

    Magneto-mechanical phenomena in oxygen
    (Ph.D. Thesis, Cluj, 1956).
    Supervisor: Horia Hulubei.
    Director of the Institute.
    Marin Ivascu (1931 - 2013)

    Elastic and inelastic diffusion of alpha particles on medium mass nuclei
    (Ph.D. Thesis, Bucharest, 1968).
    Supervisor: Horia Hulubei.
    Director of the Institute.



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