The first PhD thesis defended along new guidelines at TPU

On 27 May 2019, a PhD thesis defense in line with new rules was held at Tomsk Polytechnic University. The University used its right to confer independently the degrees of candidate and doctor of sciences, which it received in accordance with the RF Government Decree. TPU early-career scientist, an assistant at Division for Power and Electrical Engineering Dmitri Nikitin became the first degree-seeker to comply with a new attestation system. His study was devoted to the synthesis of a functional material ultrafine silicon carbide. The thesis was successfully defended followed by the decision of the dissertation council to confer Dmitri Nikitin the Degree of Candidate of Technical Sciences. 

Before that, the Higher Attestation Commission solely had authority to conduct attestation and confer degrees of candidate and doctor of sciences. In 2017, a number of Russian universities received this right with TPU to become first among six Tomsk universities. The University can independently establish dissertation councils, confer the degrees of candidate and doctor of sciences, issue diplomas of corresponding research degrees. Totally, 29 dissertation councils in line with new rules were established at TPU. It is expected to run 10 defenses until the end of the first half of 2019. One of them is a doctoral thesis, three are PhD theses authored by international PhD students from China, Syria, and Vietnam.

Dmitri Nikitin defended his PhD thesis in Electrotechnical Materials and Products before the TPU Dissertation Council. His dissertation was evaluated by seven experts.

‘My study is aimed at the development of a new way to obtain silicon carbide that is a sought-after material in many areas of industry and engineering. It is superhard, resistant to chemical, thermal, and radiation effects, has unique semiconductor properties.

Today, in the industry there is a great need in nanostructured materials able to exhibit properties that significantly differs from coarse-grained analogs. There is high interest in nanoscale particles of silicon carbide. With them it is possible to significantly improve different properties of materials, they are used in nanoelectronics, nanoelectromechanical systems, and nanosensors,’ told Dmitri Nikitin about his study. – 'The material is synthesized in a supersonic low-temperature plasma flow that is generated by a coaxial magnetoplasma accelerator that is an original device invented by TPU Prof Alexander Sivkov.’

While working on his thesis, Dmitri Nikitin studied various factors affecting the characteristics of the obtained silicon carbide particles that ultimately helped determine optimal conditions for obtaining ultrafine particles of the substance and show the most relevant ways to apply it.

Speaking on the new PhD thesis defense scheme, Dmitri Nikitin noted:

‘On the one hand, this innovation significantly enhanced requirements to the scientific level of the members of the dissertation council, including their publication activity, and consequently, the level of expert assessment of theses submitted to the defense. Additionally, the new rules imply that both opponents and the additional members of a council prepare reviews on a thesis. This ensures a deeper analysis of the work.

On the other hand, the number of members in a dissertation council was notably reduced – only experts in a certain scientific area remain in the council. This made the process of formal preparation for defense easier.’

After taking a positive decision to confer the Degree of Candidate of Sciences, the thesis of the young scientist will be available online ( for two months. The degree-seeker will be awarded a diploma of Candidate of Sciences on completion of this term.