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Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman:- A Legend of Modern Indian Science.

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One of the India’s most prominent scientists in history, of Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was the first Indian person to win the Nobel Prize in science for his illustrious 1930 discovery, now commonly known as the “Raman Effect”. It is quite surprising that Sir Raman used an equipment worth merely Rs.200 to make this discovery. Now days, “The Raman Effect” is examined with the help of equipment worth almost millions of rupees. India celebrates National Science Day on 28 February of every year to commemorate the discovery of the Raman effect in 1928.

Early Life :-

Chandrasekhara V. Raman was born at Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu on 7th November 1888 to a physics teacher. Raman was a very sharp student. After completing his studies till matriculation (12th Std), he was supposed to go abroad for higher studies, but after medical examination, a British surgeon suggested against it. After that Raman attended Presidency College, Madras. He completed his graduation in 1904 and M.Sc. in Physics in 1907. Sir Raman studied the diffraction of light and put forward various significant researches in the field of physics.

After a successful Civil Service competitive examination In 1907 Raman was made the Deputy Accountant General in Calcutta. He managed to spare his evenings for scientific research at the laboratory of the Indian Association for Cultivation of Sciences. On certain occasions, he even spent the entire nights. To pursue his passion, in 1917 he resigned from the position to become the Professor of Physics at Calcutta University.

Contributions and Achievements:

In a journey to Europe in 1921, Raman curiously noticed the blue colour of the glaciers and the Mediterranean. He was passionate to discover the reason of the blue colour. Once Raman returned to India, he performed many experiments regarding the scattering of light from water and transparent blocks of ice. According to the results obtained, he established the scientific explanation for the blue colour of sea-water and sky.

Raman employed monochromatic light from a mercury arc which penetrated transparent materials and was allowed to fall on a spectrograph to record its spectrum. During this, Raman detected some new lines in the spectrum which were later called ‘Raman Lines’. After a few months, Raman put forward his discovery of ‘Raman Effect’ in a meeting of scientists at Bangalore on March 16, 1928, for which he won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930.  

Raman Effect Conclusion :-

Raman Effect concluded that when a light beam travels through a medium, the beam is deflected by the molecules. But more important he observed that a small part of the emerging light beam after deflection by the molecules had a different wavelength from the original beam. In other words the wavelength of light after passing through a medium and being deflected by the molecules had a different wavelength.

This change in wavelength of the light beam is known as the Raman Effect and forms an important part of spectroscopy. The limiting factor for this was that the light had to pass from a dust free medium. He also observed that the entire beam did not have its wavelength changed, but only a small part. 

Applications:-

Raman analysis is one of the few techniques which can provide key information, easily and quickly, detailing the chemical composition and the structure of the investigated materials. The ‘Raman Effect’ is considered very significant in analyzing the molecular structure of chemical compounds. After a decade of its discovery, the structure of about 2000 compounds was studied. Thanks to the invention of the laser, the ‘Raman Effect’ has proved to be a very useful tool for scientists, because if one can extract all of the vibrational information corresponds a molecule, its molecular structure can then be determined.

Some of Raman’s other interests were the physiology of human vision, the optics of colloids and the electrical and magnetic anisotropy, nuclear science, forensic science, geology, etc.

Personal life :-

Sir C. V. Raman married on 6 May 1907 to Lokasundari Ammal (1892–1980). They had two sons, Chandrasekhar and Radhakrishnan.

In 1948 Raman retired from the Indian Institute of Science and established the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, Karnataka. He served as its director and remained active there until his death in 1970, in Bangalore, at the age of 82.

Death :-

He continued the scientific research in his research institute until his death which was caused by a strong heart attack on November 21, 1970. His last sincere advice to aspiring scientists was that “scientific research needed independent thinking and hard work, not equipment.”

Honours and awards :-

Raman was honoured with following number of honorary doctorates and memberships of scientific societies:-

  • In 1924 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, London, UK, and knighted in 1929.
  • In 1930 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics.
  • In 1941 he was awarded the Franklin Medal.
  • In 1954 he was awarded the Bharat Ratna.
  • He was awarded the International Lenin Peace Prize in 1957. In 1998, the American Chemical Society and Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science recognised Raman’s discovery as an International Historic Chemical Landmark.

For a Fact :-

Raman was the paternal uncle of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who  won the Nobel Prize in Physics (1983) for his discovery of the Chandrasekhar limit in 1931 and for his subsequent work on the nuclear reactions necessary for stellar evolution.

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