Indian Nobel Physics Laureate

Chandarsekhara Venkata or ‘CV’ Raman was born in Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu on the 7th of November 1888 to a physics teacher. He was a very bright student and by the age of 13 he had passed his matriculation and was awarded a scholarship to study overseas. However after a medical examination he was told he should avoid going and instead enrolled in Presidency College in Madras where his father was a lecturer.

By 1921, on a sea voyage he became very interested in the blue light given by the Mediterranean Sea and nearby glaciers. What he discovered was that light can be scattered in water or transparent blocks of ice. With his equipment, which only cost Rs. 200, he allowed this scattered light to fall onto a spectrograph and the lines he found dictated the properties of the colour of water. This came to be known as the Raman effect which he presented to a meeting of scientists in Bangalore in 1928. In 1930, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics becoming the first Indian scientist to have achieved this feat having studied wholly in India. The Raman effect is very important because it opened up new avenues to test molecular structures in chemical compounds. For instance, it led to over 2000 compounds were studied regarding their structure and was became even more valuable with the introduction of lasers and modern computers.

He was also elected to the Royal Society of London in 1924, knighted by the British Empire in 1929 and by 1947 was appointed as the first national professor by the new independent government of India. In 1948 however, he built the Raman Institute where he worked relentlessly until he passed away in 1970. His sincere advice to scientists was that ‘scientific research needs independent thinking and hard work, not equipment’.