Physics Experts

Dragan D. Mihailovic

Head of Department
Jozef Stefan Institute


 I was introduced to the joys of experimental science at the Atmospheric Physics Department at Oxford at 16, where I was given the task to estimate the cooling capacity of a Nimbus G satellite instrument cooling cone. I was supposed to use a cumbersome laser (no pointers those days) to estimate the solid angle of the radiator, which I needed to calculate the device’s temperature. I ended up using string and sellotape instead, and though some calculation which I was sure that I got wrong, my estimate was 160K. I later studied physics at Oxford, and forgot all about the cooling cone. I also completed my doctorate there studying collective effects of electronic excitations in high magnetic fields and very low temperatures. This time I did use laser spectroscopy (this couldn’t be done with string). Many years later I met Guy Peskett, who was kindly tolerating my incompetence while I was at Atmospheric Physics many years previously, and asked him what about the cooling of the detectors on Nimbus satellites. It turned out that Nimbus G gave some of the first data on the Earth’s atmospheric CO2, while another copy successfully completed its mission to Venus. When I asked with trepidation whether there was any trouble with the cooling cone, the answer was, no. It’s temperature was 160K. This convinced me that luck has a big role in experimental physics. Incidentally, the backup module of Nimbus G satellite is now in the London Science Museum, so I can reminisce any time I like by going down to London.

Research Interest

Optics, liquid crystals, light scattering, optical spectroscopy, phase transitions, soft matter


  • Meden A, Kodre A, Gomilšek JP, Arčon I, Vilfan I, Vrbanic D, Mrzel A, Mihailovic D. Atomic and electronic structure of Mo6S9− xix nanowires. Nanotechnology. 2005 Jul 1;16(9):1578.

  • Berčič B, Pirnat U, Kusar P, Dvorsek D, Mihailovic D, Vengust D, Podobnik B. Transport properties of Mo 6 S 3 I 6 nanowire networks. Applied physics letters. 2006 Apr 24;88(17):173103.

  • Vrbanić D, Remškar M, Jesih A, Mrzel A, Umek P, Ponikvar M, Jančar B, Meden A, Novosel B, Pejovnik S, Venturini P. Air-stable monodispersed Mo6S3I6 nanowires. Nanotechnology. 2004 Mar 9;15(5):635.

  • Narymbetov B, Omerzu A, Kabanov VV, Tokumoto M. Origin of ferromagnetic exchange interactions in a fullerene--organic compound. Nature. 2000 Oct 19;407(6806):883.

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