One Hundred Tamils
of the 20th Century
Chandrasekhar Venkata Raman (C.V.Raman)
|Biography from Nobel Lectures. Physics 1922-1941,
Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1965 - written at the
time of the award and later published in the book series Les Prix
Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was born at Trichinopoly in
Southern India on November 7th, 1888. His father was a lecturer in mathematics
and physics so that from the first he was immersed in an academic atmosphere. He
entered Presidency College, Madras, in 1902, and in 1904 passed his B.A.
examination, winning the first place and the gold medal in physics; in 1907 he
gained his M.A. degree, obtaining the highest distinctions.
His earliest researches in optics and acoustics - the two fields of
investigation to which he has dedicated his entire career - were carried out
while he was a student.
Since at that time a scientific career did not appear to present the best
possibilities, Raman joined the Indian Finance Department in 1907; though the
duties of his office took most of his time, Raman found opportunities for
carrying on experimental research in the laboratory of the Indian Association
for the Cultivation of Science at Calcutta (of which he became Honorary
Secretary in 1919).
In 1917 he was offered the newly endowed Palit Chair of Physics at Calcutta
University, and decided to accept it. After 15 years at Calcutta he became
Professor at the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore (1933-1948), and since
1948 he is Director of the Raman Institute of Research at Bangalore, established
and endowed by himself. He also founded the Indian Journal of Physics in 1926,
of which he is the Editor. Raman sponsored the establishment of the Indian
Academy of Sciences and has served as President since its inception. He also
initiated the Proceedings of that academy, in which much of his work has been
published, and is President of the Current Science Association, Bangalore, which
publishes Current Science (India).
Some of Raman's early memoirs appeared as Bulletins of the Indian Associationfor
the Cultivation of Science (Bull. 6 and 11, dealing with the "Maintenance of
Vibrations"; Bull. 15, 1918, dealing with the theory of the musical instruments
of the violin family). 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 which ultimately led to his
discovery, on the 28th of February, 1928, of the radiation effect which bears
his name ("A new radiation", Indian J. Phys., 2 (1928) 387), and which gained
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 behaviour of crystals, approached in a
new manner fundamental problems of crystal dynamics. His laboratory has been
dealing with the structure and properties of diamond, the structure and optical
behaviour of numerous iridescent substances (labradorite, pearly felspar, agate,
opal, and pearls).
Among his other interests have been the optics of colloids, electrical and
magnetic anisotropy, and the physiology of human vision.
Raman has been honoured with a large number of honorary doctorates and
memberships of scientific societies. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal
Society early in his career (1924), and was knighted in 1929.