Professor Emeritus Emil Polturak, 1948 – 2024

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our esteemed colleague Professor Emeritus Emil Polturak.

Emil was born in Poland in July 1948 and joined the Technion Physics Department in 1981. He completed his Ph.D. at Tel Aviv University in low-temperature physics under the supervision of Prof. Ralph Rosenbaum. He then did a Post-Doc at Cornell University under the guidance of Nobel Laureate Prof. David Lee on the subject of “zero sound” in 3He.

His activities in the Physics Department were mainly centered around two topics: superconductivity and solid/liquid helium. He educated 25 graduate students with over 100 publications. Their topics included imaging of magnetic vortex structures in superconductors and solid-liquid equilibrium in 3He-4He mixtures. He was the Dean of the Physics Department for three years from January 2002 to December 2004, during which he took responsibility for the building of a new wing to the Physics department, the Lidow Memorial Complex.

In addition to physics, Emil had a passion for music and founded the departmental musical band "Physband". He shared in his biography: "Besides Physics, I love music. The picture shown here (2nd picture) is taken from my days as a student at the Hebrew University. While pursuing a career in Physics, I did not give up music. (during my BSc) I spent a significant part of my time playing in a rock band. This did not help in achieving high grades, but ultimately they were good enough to get into graduate school". The Physband is a group of students and faculty who meet on a regular basis to play music. This band, with its everchanging personnel and repertoire, has been active for almost 20 years now. A selection of songs played by the band at various “end of the year” faculty parties can be viewed on Youtube.

In recent years he got interested in the melting of pure materials, which has for more than 100 years been known to involve three stages: surface melting, defect-induced melting and bulk melting. The first and last of these have been well-studied, but defect melting - basically grain-boundary or dislocation melting - had only evidence from simulations. Until Emil and his students moved in.

Emeritus Professor Steve Lipson shared: “recently, we obtained clear experimental evidence of grain-boundary melting in some metals at temperatures about 5 deg below the accepted bulk melting temperature. This is called “premelting”. It was a pleasure to work with him for the last 3 years on this topic. Fortunately for Emil, the results of these experiments were accepted for publication in January this year in the Physical Review. In addition, we received acknowledgement in the American Physical Society’s “Physics Magazine” as an outstanding publication. Emil wrote to me when he saw these publications: “Now maybe I will be famous!”.”

We will remember Emil, not only for his leadership in the Physics faculty, but also as a kind and helpful person who put all his efforts into encouraging students to further solid state physics and physics in general. 






The funeral will take place Wednesday March 27th 2024 at Tel Regev cemetery at 15:00, spanish plot. (החלקה הספרדית)


אנו אבלים על מותו של עמיתנו פרופ' אמיל פולטורק 

ההלוויה תתקיים היום, ביום ד' 27/03/2024, יז' באדר ב בשעה 15:00.
המשפחה יושבת שבעה ברחוב פרנק פלג 18, חיפה
בין בשעות 10:00-13:00 16:00-20:00