CV RAMAN: THE GREAT INDIAN PHYSICIST
Sir CV. Raman, created history when he became the first ever-Indian scientist to win the highest award in science, the Noble prize for physics in the year 1930. His major work known as the ‘Raman Effect’ evokes as much scientific interest today as it did at the time of its discovery. Raman was known for his scientific temperament and boundless curiosity. He was loved! as a teacher and his efforts on scientific research provided a foundation for scientific inquiry and experimentation in the country.
Chandrasekhar Venkata Raman or CV Raman was born in Thiruchinapalli, in Tamil Nadu, India on 7 November 1888. He was the son of Chandrasekhar Iyer and Parvathi Ammal. His father was an academician. Raman spent his early years in Vishakhapatnam where his father taught mathematics at the Mrs. AVN College.
Raman showed himself to be an academic genius by achieving great learning at a very young age. By the time he was eleven, he had already completed his secondary school education. At fifteen, he topped his class and passed out from the prestigious Presidency College in Madras (now Chennai) in B.A.Honors in Physics and English. He continued to study at the Presidency College and topped his class once more in 1907 in M.A. honors even before the completion of his seventeenth birthday.
After the completion of his studies, Raman got married to Lokasundari and was compelled to take up work as an Assistant Accountant General with the Indian Civil Services in Kolkata since there were no other opportunities existing for him as a scientist. Even while working as an accountant, Raman continued to experiment with physics in the laboratories of the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science whenever he found the time. He studied the physics of Indian musical instruments.
Raman’s dedication to science gained him a reputation and he was offered the position of Sir Taraknath Palit Professorship of Physics at Calcutta University in the year 1917. In the next fifteen years, that he spent there, he conducted in-depth research and study on optics and the scattering of lights and discovered the phenomenon that is today known as the ‘The Raman Effect’.
Raman announced his discovery on the 16th of March 1928 at the joint meeting of the South Indian Science Association and the Science Club of Central College held in Bangaluru. The Raman Effect confirmed that light was made up of particles known as ‘photons’. The discovery attracted worldwide attention of physics researchers. About 1800 research papers were published on the effect in the first twelve years of its discovery. The discovery helped in the study of the molecular and crystal structures of different substances.
His brilliant career in science won him much recognition and several prestigious awards. In 1924, he was elected to the Royal Society of London. In 1929, after the announcement of his discovery, the British made him a knight of the British Empire. In 1930, not only was he honored with the prestigious Hughes medal from the Royal Society but he was also awarded with the most sought after prize in science, the Noble Prize in Physics, making the nation proud of him. Later, the Government of India honoured him with the highest award in the country, the ‘Bharat Ratna’ award.
Raman went on to establish the foundation of scientific research in India. He became the first director of the Indian Institute of Sciences in Bangalore that was established in 1934. He went on to teach physics at the institute. In 1947, after India gained independence, the new government appointed him as the first National Professor.
After his retirement from the Indian Institute in 1948, he went on to establish his own research institute called the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore and served the cause of science by acting as its director until his death on 21 November 1970. During his entire teaching career, he was immensely loved and respected by his students for his inspiring lectures and devotion to the subject of physics.