Friday, November 7, 2014

Bharat Ratna Nobel Laureate C.V. Raman - Biography and Contribution

C. V. Raman was born on 7 November 1888 in his maternal grandfather's house, in a small village of Thiruvanaikaval near Tiruchirapalli (Trichonopoly in 1888), on the bank's of Kaveri in Tamil Nadu. Raman's maternal grandfather Saptarshi Sastri was a great Sanskrit scholar.

Raman's father was  R. Chandrasekhara Iyer.  He became a lecturer in mathematics and physics in Mrs. A.V. Narasimha Rao College, Vishakapatnam (then Vizagapatnam) in Andhra Pradesh. Raman passed his matriculation examination at the age of 11 and he passed his F.A. examination (equivalent to today's Intermediate) with a scholarship at 13. In 1903 Raman joined the Presidency College in Chennai (then Madras) from where he passed the B.A. (1904) and M.A. (1907) examinations. He stood first both in B.A. and M.A. examinations and won all the prizes available. Raman himself wrote : " I finished my school and college career and my university examination at the age of eighteen."

While Raman was a student, he independently undertook original investigations in acoustics and optics. Raman was the first student of the Madras Presidency College to get a research paper published, that too in a prestigious international journal. His first paper on 'unsymmetrical diffraction bands due to a rectangular aperture' was published in the Philosophical Magazine (London) in November 1906. This was the result of Raman's measuring the angles of a prism using an ordinary spectrometer in his college. This was followed by a note in the same journal on a new experimental method of measuring surface tension. Lord Rayleigh (1842-1919) took note of the papers published by Raman as a student. Rayleigh was an outstanding mathematical physicist and a good experimenter, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of argon. Raman and Rayleigh exchanged some correspondence.

Despite his brilliance in scientific investigations, at the instance of his father Raman took the Financial Civil Service (FCS) examination. He stood first in the examination and in the middle of 1907 Raman proceeded to Kolkata (then Calcutta) to join the Indian Finance Department as Assistant Accountant General. He was then 18½ years old. His starting salary was Rs. 400 per month, a fabulous sum in those days. One day while going to office Raman saw a signboard with the words "Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science" written on it. The address was 210, Bowbazar Street. On his way back he came to the Association where he first met an individual named Ashutosh Dey (Ashu Babu) who was to be Raman's assistant for 25 years. Ashu Babu took Raman to the Honorary Secretary of the Association, Amrit Lal Sircar, who was overjoyed when he came to know about Raman's intention -- to do research at the Association's laboratory. Raman started working in the laboratory of the association.

There was an interruption to Raman's work at the Association. He was transferred to Rangoon (1909) and Nagpur (1910). However, Raman's research work was not completely stopped. At both places he converted his home into a laboratory and continued his work. He came back to Calcutta in 1911.
 Till 1917 Raman continued his research at the Association in his spare time. Doing research in his spare time and that too with very limited facilities Raman could publish his research findings in leading international journals like Nature, The Philosophical Magazine and Physics Review. During this period he published 30 original research papers. His research carried during this period mainly centred on areas of vibrations and acoustics. He studied a number of musical instruments viz., ectara, violin, tambura, veena, mridangam, tabla etc. He published a monograph on his extensive studies on the violin. The monograph was titled 'On the Mechanical Theory of Vibrations of Musical Instruments of the Violin Family with Experimental Verifications of the Results Part- I'. Ashu Babu was his collaborator at the association laboratory and he was a joint author in many papers that Raman published. Ashu Babu was also the sole author of a paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. It was in 1919 Raman took research students for the first time.

In 1917 Raman was invited by Asutosh Mookerjee (1864-1924), to be a professor in the newly established Science College.   Raman was offered the Palit Professorship in Physics. The salary for the professorship was about half the amount that Raman was getting in the Finance Department.  However, Raman happily accepted the offer. He joined the Calcutta University as Palit Professor in July 1917.  It was in 1919 Raman took research students for the first time.

Even after joining the Calcutta University,  Raman was continued his work at the Association's Laboratories. In fact the Association became the research arm of the University. Following the death of Amrit Lal Sircar in 1919 Raman was elected as Honorary Secretary of the Association, the post he held till 1933, when he left Kolkata.

Raman discovered Raman Effect in 1928. The first paper was published in the Indian Journal of Physics on 31 March 1928. He was given the Nobel Prize in 1930. In his, Nobel prize address Raman described various experiments carried out by him and his colleagues in Calcutta University in the area of light and colours. He got the inspiration for this area of research by looking at the blue Mediterranean sea on his voyage to England.

Raman's Nobel Lecture

A Paper on Raman Effect

Basic experiment of Raman was explained in:

In 1933,  Raman was voted out of the Honorary Secretaryship of the Association in a move supported by Meghnad Saha. So Raman decided to move to the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, to become its Director. He was the first Indian to become its Director. Raman succeeded Sir Martin Forster, FRS. He served IISc both as  Director during 1933-1937  and aS head of the Physics Department during 1933-1948.

When Raman joined IISc its academic accomplishments were not very high. But its funding position was much better than Calcutta University where Raman worked. Raman brought out the following changes:

A new physics department came into existence
Some of the existing departments were reorganised
Steps were initiated to establish a central workshop for fabricating precision instruments.
The surroundings were improved by planting beautiful flowering gardens.

For achieving academic excellence he himself gathered a team of talented students and faculty and started high quality research in many fields of physics like quantum mechanics, crystal chemistry and vitamins and enzyme chemistry by recruiting outstanding faculty. But his activities were not to the liking of some faculty members who complained and a committee was appointed to investigate the affairs. The committee gave the opinion criticising Raman. Raman resigned from the Director's position and remained a professor and head till 1948.

After retirement from the Institute he concentrated his attention on  building the Raman Research Institute (RRI).  Raman had to gather money for building the Institute as Raman had lost most of his life's savings including his Nobel Prize money in an investment. The Institute was built on a ten acre plot of land gifted by the Maharajah of Mysore way back in 1934  to the Indian Academy of Sciences, and for its related activities.  The Indian Academy of Sciences Bangalore, which now publishes some of the best science journals in the country, was established by Raman. The Academy was formed on April 27, 1934. It was registered in Bangalore under the Societies Registration Act. Besides Raman, there were 160 Foundation Fellows. The inaugural meeting of the Academy was held in the campus of Indian Institute of Science in August 1934.

Raman traveled extensively for raising donation for constructing the building for housing the institute. To earn money for the institute he started a few chemical industries (in association with one of his former students). The dividends from these industries were sufficient to support the institute to start with. He gifted away most of his personal properties to the Academy for the benefit of the institute, as also the Lenin Peace Prize money. A museum was built to house Raman's collection of crystals, gems, minerals, rock specimens, shells, stuffed birds, butterflies and so on.

Raman was awarded Bharat Ratna in 1954.

Raman died on November 21, 1970. As per his desire he was cremated in the gardens of his institute.

Condensed from

Documentary on C.V. Raman

About Nobel Prize to Prof C.V. Raman

India - National Science Day 28 February 2014

Books on Raman Scattering

N.B. Colthup, L.H. Daly, S.E. Wiberley. Introduction to Infrared and Raman Spectroscopy.
(Third Edition) Academic Press, 1990.
Derek A. Long. The Raman Effect. John Wiley & Sons, New York, 2002.
A. Weber (Editor). Raman Spectroscopy of Gases and Liquids. Topics in Current Physics. John
Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1979.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Raogaru,
    Nice speaking to you today!
    Though you said its a tedious job to keep going with the blog,
    Here comes a wonderful post on a well known figure
    Thanks for presenting Prof. Raman to us
    Keep writing
    Best Regards
    ~ Bro Phil