CV Raman: Defying the Odds and Shaping the Future of Science

Image Source: New Scientist

Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was born at Tiruchirappalli in southern India on November 7th, 1888. His father was a lecturer in mathematics and physics, so from the beginning he was immersed in an academic atmosphere. He entered Presidency College, Madras, in 1902, and in 1904 he passed his B.A. examination, winning first place and the gold medal in physics; in 1907 he obtained his M.A. degree, obtaining the highest distinctions.

His earliest research in optics and acoustics—the two fields of investigation to which he has dedicated his entire career—was carried out while he was a student.


Raman’s Early Life:

Raman joined the Indian Finance Department in 1907 because a scientific career did not seem to offer the best prospects. Despite the duties of his office consuming most of his time, he was able to conduct experimental research at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in Calcutta (of which he became Honorary Secretary in 1919).

The newly endowed Palit Chair of Physics at Calcutta University was offered to him in 1917, and he accepted it. In 1933, he became a professor at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, and since 1948, he has been director of the Raman Institute of Research in Bangalore, which he established and endowednce 1948, he has been director of the Raman Institute of Research in Bangalore, which he established and endowed. He also founded the Indian Journal of Physics in 1926, of which he is the editor.

The Indian Academy of Sciences was established by Raman, who has served as its president since its inception. His work has also been published in the Proceedings of that academy as well as in Current Science (India), published by the Current Science Association, Bangalore.

A few of Raman’s early memoirs appeared in Bulletins of the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (Bulls 6 and 11, dealing with the “Maintenance of Vibrations; Bull 15.18, dealing with the theory of the violin families of musical instruments). He contributed an article on the theory of musical instruments to the 8th volume of the Handbuch der Physik, 1928. In 1922 he published his work on the “Molecular Diffraction of Light”, the first of a series of investigations with his collaborators that ultimately led to his discovery, on the 28th of February, 1928, of the radiation effect that bears his name (“A New Radiation,”, Indian J. Phys., 2 (1928) 387), which earned him the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Other investigations carried out by Raman were his experimental and theoretical studies on the diffraction of light by acoustic waves of ultrasonic and hypersonic frequencies (published 1934–1942) and those on the effects produced by X-rays on infrared vibrations in crystals exposed to ordinary light. In 1948, Raman, through studying the spectroscopic behavior of crystals, approached in a new manner the fundamental problem of crystal dynamics. His laboratory has been dealing with the structure and properties of diamonds and the structure and optical behavior of numerous iridescent substances (labradorite, pearly feldspar, agate, opal, and pearls).


The Raman Effect:

The Raman effect is a phenomenon in physics where light interacts with matter and causes a change in its energy level. When light, like the ones from a laser or a flashlight, shines on a substance like a crystal or a gas, some of the light gets scattered in all directions. This scattered light can have a slightly different color than the original light source, and this is called the Raman effect.

The Raman effect is important because it allows scientists to study the properties of different materials by analyzing the scattered light. By studying the Raman effect, scientists can learn about the chemical composition and structure of a substance, which can help them understand its properties and potential applications.

For example, the Raman effect can be used to study the molecular structure of a drug, which can help researchers design better medicines. It can also be used to study the properties of materials used in electronics, such as semiconductors, which are critical components in many modern devices.

In summary, the Raman effect is a phenomenon where light interacts with matter, causing a change in its energy level, and can be used to study the properties of different materials.



Other areas of interest of his include the optics of colloids, electrical and magnetic anisotropy, as well as the physiology of vision in humans. Raman has been honored with a large number of honorary doctorates and memberships in scientific societies. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society early in his career (1924) and was knighted in 1929.



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