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The Federal research center Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IAP RAS) was established on the basis of several departments of the Radiophysical Research Institute (RRI) of the RSFSR Ministry of Higher Education in April 1977. Academician A. V. Gaponov-Grekhov  was the founder and director of the Institute for 25 years.  From 2003 to 2015 the Institute was headed by academician A. G. Litvak. From 2015 until his election as the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2017, A. M. Sergeev was the Director of the Institute. According to the results of the elections of 2019,  G. G. Denisov, a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who has been acting as the head since 2017, was appointed the Director of IAP RAS.
In 2014-2018, IAP RAS was under the jurisdiction of the Federal Agency for Scientific Organizations (FASO of Russia).
In accordance with the order of FASO of Russia No. 334 of June 30, 2015, the Institute for Physics of Microstructures of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Mechanical Engineering Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences have been affiliated with the Federal research center IAP RAS since March 1, 2016.
In accordance with the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 215 “On the Structure of Federal Executive Bodies” dated May 15, 2018  and the Order of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 1293-r dated June 27, 2018, the Center was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation.

The Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences today is one of the largest institutions in the structure of the Russian Academy of Sciences and occupies the leading positions in a variety of fields in modern physics. The research delegated to IAP RAS is focused in the following structural units:

  • Plasma physics and high-power electronics division
  • Geophysical research division
  • Nonlinear dynamics and optics division
  • Center for hydroacoustics

The main research lines of the Institute include  

  • high-power electronics
  • plasma electrodynamics
  • physical phenomena in natural media and their diagnostics
  • low-frequency ocean acoustics
  • physical acoustics and methods of acoustic diagnostics
  • nonlinear dynamics
  • laser physics and nonlinear optics quantum systems

The IAP RAS was conceived and created as a multipurpose institution combining basic and applied research in the field of plasma physics, high-power electronics, physics of the atmosphere, hydrophysics, and quantum electronics.
The gyrotrons, i.e., high-power millimeter-wave oscillators, and respective results on interaction of high-power electromagnetic radiation with plasma and matter are widely used in controlled nuclear fusion facilities. In cooperation with the scientific and production enterprise GYCOM the IAP RAS has become one of the world leaders in developing gyrotrons for different purposes.
Theoretical and experimental achievements in nonlinear and adaptive optics have been the basis for the construction of high-power laser systems at the IAP RAS, including a femtosecond laser complex of petawatt power. The pioneering research in the field of acoustics performed as early as in the 1960-1970s has led to the development of new highly sensitive methods of nondestructive testing and defectoscopy.  Many years of experience in the field of precision optical measurements ensured the development and introduction into clinical practice of a generation of methods and instruments of optical biomedical diagnostics. Large-scale field studies and unique solutions in low-frequency ocean acoustics resulted in the creation and industrial application of advanced tools of hydroacoustic metrology and diagnostics of complex vibroactive systems, the implementation of coherent methods of high-resolution seismoacoustic diagnostics, etc.  
Many of the research lines actively developed at the IAP RAS are related to the inverse problems of remote diagnostics and tomography of different objects.
Recently studies in the topical problems in physics of condensed media and quantum physics, attosecond physics, nanophotonics,   modeling and construction of neuromorphic systems, the development of physical principles and technologies for  the creation of nanostructural materials, study of catastrophic phenomena in the Earth’s natural shells (ocean and atmosphere), and the development of new-generation tools and techniques for diagnostics of natural environments and complex technical systems have successfully been started at the Institute.   
The Institute has a powerful experimental base and a large set of modern diagnostic tools for both laboratory and field experiments.
The research activities are provided by more than 1100 employees, of which about 450 are research scientists, including  4 full members of RAS, 7 corresponding members of RAS, 90 doctors of science and 197 candidates of science. The average age of the IAP RAS employees is 47. Over the years of existence of the Institute, the work carried out by its staff has been awarded many scientific honors and prizes, among which are Lenin and State prizes, prizes of the USSR Council of Ministers  and of the Russian Government, Lenin Komsomol prizes, State prize of the Russian Federation for young scientists for their outstanding work in science and engineering, M.V.Lomonosov great golden medal of RAS, and RAS medals with prizes for young scientists, as well as a number of prestigious international prizes and medals.

For many years, the Institute has organized regular world-known conferences and scientific schools.

The Institute has a “belt” of small science-intensive spin-off companies. Their main objective is to bring the scientific results obtained at the IAP RAS to workable specimens and prototypes, market analysis, and marketing of science-intensive products.

The Institute has a wide system of training specialists in physics and a multilevel system of continuous education. Two doctoral dissertation boards work at the Institute.

Summer Physical and Mathematical Schools for the senior pupils of Nizhny Novgorod and the region are held annually on the basis of N.S.Talalushkin child’s recreation-educational camp of the IAP RAS.