Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (7th November 1888 - 21st November 1970)

The late Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was an Indian physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930 for his ground-breaking discoveries relating to light scattering and the discovery of a new form of scattering, now known as the Raman effect or Raman scattering. Utilizing this effect can have a positive effect on the composition of solids, liquids, and gases. It can be used to diagnose a variety of illnesses and to observe the production process.


Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman(7th November 1888 - 21st November 1970)

Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (7th November 1888 - 21st November 1970)

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On November 7, 1888, Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was born in the city of Tiruchirapalli in the Tamil Nadu state of India to a family of Tamil Brahmin descent. Raman's ancestors were farmers who found a home in the Tanjore district in the vicinity of Porasakudi Village and Mangudi.  When he was just four years of age, Chandrasekaran, Raman's father, relocated to Visakhapatnam to become a lecturer at Mrs. A.V. Narasimha Rao College. He was a professor of Physics, arithmetic, and physical geography at the university.

Chandrasekaran was known for his physical and mental strength, which was attributed to his dedication to athletics, physical culture, and Indian Carnatic music, among other activities. In contrast to his father, Raman was not particularly strong physically, however he was exceptionally clever. His teachers noticed an exceptional level of ability in him from the very start and he exceeded expectations in school, receiving many awards and scholarships for his hard work.

While attending school, Raman developed a strong fascination and curiosity for the concepts of Physics. He was captivated by the way physical principles and machines worked and was so inspired that he designed a dynamo all on his own. C. V. Raman was a remarkable student, graduating high school at the young age of eleven and receiving the highest marks in the Matriculation Examination.

He then chose to enrol at the AVN College in order to prepare for the Intermediate Exam. This time he was given a great deal of recognition for his efforts and he was awarded the highest scores on the university exam. In 1903, he was awarded a scholarship to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree at the Presidency College in Chennai (formerly known as Madras), and he was the youngest student there.

At that point, the Presidency College was considered to be the most superior college in the Southern region of India. When Raman was in college, the majority of the lecturers and instructors he had were from Europe. This period saw Raman's enthusiasm for Physics escalate, as well as a strong affinity for English. In 1904, Raman achieved the highest score in the university's Bachelor of Arts examinations and was rewarded with gold medals for his accomplishments in English and Physics.

The Madras Civil Surgeon was adamant in his refusal to allow the young Raman to pursue his education in England, despite the encouragement he received from his teachers, due to the belief that the English climate was too harsh for him to endure. In contrast to his brother, Raman did not leave the country until he had finished his Master of Arts degree in Physics at Presidency College, when he was thirty-three years old.


Career and Marriage

In the month of January, 1907, Raman successfully completed his Master's examination, achieving the highest marks and receiving several awards and prizes. He had a strong passion for science and particularly for research, however, due to the lack of research opportunities available for Indian citizens there in India, it was difficult for him to pursue.

Due to his health having deteriorated to the point that it was no longer possible for him to travel to England. Consequently, Raman contemplated working for the government, an occupation that is regarded as reputable, dependable, and prestigious. Even in the unfortunate circumstances, he still had the ambition to join the illustrious Indian Civil Service, the peak of government service, however, this would only be possible after undertaking training in England and sitting the exams there, yet this option was barred from him due to medical reasons. Raman's next preference was to join the Financial Civil Service (FCS), where his brother C.S. Iyer was already a member.

The FCS was pivotal in providing the foundation for the current Indian Audit and Accounts Service as we know it today. In 1907 Raman succeeded in passing the FCS examination and soon thereafter he married Lokasundari before beginning his official job. This period of his life was exceptionally unique in its course of events. Although he was still a teenager, Raman was appointed Assistant Accountant-General in Calcutta in the middle of the year 1907. When he got married, his salary, with the marriage allowance included, was Rs. 400.

Raman and Lokasundari began their journey to Calcutta, which served as the capital of British India during that period. Taking advantage of the stimulating and scientific atmosphere of Calcutta, Raman was able to express his creativity in the field of science - Calcutta was at the time considered a science hub of the East. In addition to being sent to Calcutta, Raman was also dispatched to Nagpur and Rangoon.


Scientific Achievements

During his time at Presidency College studying Physics, Raman used his time productively with Professor Jones, designing and conducting experiments in order to answer the seemingly endless questions he had. Despite the fact that the Physics lab only had the most basic of laboratory instruments, which was just enough for the classwork, Raman still made use of them all. Raman's inquiries were frequently of a nature for which the literature did not provide any answers.

His inquisitive nature made science come easily to him, leading him to be constantly experimenting throughout his life. Although Raman was already familiar with the wave-like nature of light and the phenomenon of diffraction, he decided to conduct experiments concerning asymmetric diffraction of light. Professor Jones was given the opportunity to provide his observations on the experiment and was presented with the collected feedback.

Professor Jones, however, elected to remain completely silent for a lengthy period of time. It is uncertain how Raman became aware of the Philosophical Magazine which was subscribed to by the Connemara Public Library located approximately five kilometers away from Presidency College. In 1906, an 18 year old high school student, Raman, wrote this paper, and there were no acknowledgements of any other contributors. It was especially admirable that Raman achieved success in spite of the fact that Presidency College was not a research institution, and his paper was the first one to come out of there. Not long after Raman's first publication, R.W. Wood from Johns Hopkins University made his own publication.

Wood transmitted a telegraphic message to Nature magazine to make known the discovery of the Raman Effect. In 1917, Raman decided to leave the government and take up the Palit Professorship in Physics which was newly established at the University of Calcutta. At the same time, he kept up his studies at the IACS, eventually rising to the rank of Honorary Secretary. During this point in his career, Raman referred to it as his "golden age" of success. He was fortunate enough to be surrounded by a talented group of students at both The IACS and the University of Calcutta.

In the year 1929, he was chosen to preside over the 16th gathering of the Indian Science Congress. In addition to his Nobel Prize-winning work on light scattering, Raman dedicated a considerable amount of his time to researching the acoustics of musical instruments. He created a theory of transverse vibration of bowed strings by using superposition velocities as a basis. Helmholtz's technique cannot compare to the great job this technique does in illustrating the vibrational movement of a bowed string. He was the innovator of discovering the harmonic elements of classic Indian percussion instruments like the tabla and mridangam.

In 1933, Raman was selected to be the director of the newly formed Indian Institute of Science (IISc) situated in the city of Bangalore. The Indian Institute of Science was founded in 1909 with the intention of carrying out independent research and teaching science and engineering. Prior to Raman's appointment, the majority of the faculty members and all of the directors of IISc were from Britain. He continued to hold the position of Professor of Physics for a further two years.

In 1947, the new government of Independent India designated him as the nation's inaugural National Professor. He retired from Indian Institute of Science in 1948 and one year later established Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, Karnataka, where he served as director until his death in 1970.


Raman's discovery

Raman was recognized for his remarkable work on light scattering and the discovery of the Raman effect when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930. The inelastic scattering of a photon is known as "Raman scattering" or "Raman effect." This phenomenon is the basis for Raman spectroscopy.


Raman Effect

C V Raman had a great passion for discovering the Physics of Musical Sound and he worked diligently to gain a better understanding of it. When Hermann Von Helmholtz entered IACS he became inspired by the book The Sensations of Tone. During the five year period from 1916 to 1921, he dedicated his time to researching and publishing the results of his observations. Taking into account the superposition of velocities, he was able to define the principle of transverse vibration of bowed string instruments.

One of his earliest experiments was to attempt to resolve the wolf tone in violins and cellos. He conducted a detailed analysis into the acoustics of violins and other string instruments, as well as the sound of water droplets and Indian string instruments. One of his works was an experiment using a mechanically-played violin. In 1919, C V Raman started exploring the scattering of light in relation to his expansive research into the area of optics, which ultimately resulted in his discovery of the blue colour of the sea. He made an incredible discovery when he first uncovered the mechanics of why seawater is blue in colour.

In September 1921, a reflection on the blue hue of the Mediterranean Sea floated through his mind as he sailed home to England on the S.S. Narkunda. He used basic optical instruments such as a pocket-sized spectroscope and a Nicol prism to test the seawater. C V Raman Inventions have greatly contributed to the understanding of how most photons behave when they are elastically dispersed and light is scattered from an atom or molecule.

The incident photons which are scattered have the same energy and therefore the same frequency and wavelength as the scattered photons. When light with a certain frequency, which is usually lower than the frequency of the incident photons, is excited, only a small fraction of scattered light (approximately one in ten million photons) will be seen.

The phenomenon of Raman scattering may take place in a gas environment if the energy of the molecule's vibrational, rotational, or electronic state undergoes a change. Through an analysis of the scattered radiations, Raman elaborated that we are able to gain an insight into the fundamental structure of the scattering. In 1922, Raman published his thesis titled "Molecular Diffraction of Light", the first in a string of investigations with his associates that would eventually lead to his discovery of the radiation effect that is famously known as "Raman Effect" on February 28th, 1928.

In 1928, C. V. Raman and K. S. Krishnan were the first to discover the Raman effect, which was also independently identified by Grigory Landsberg and Leonid Mandelstam. The physicists praised Raman's discovery as a confirmation of the quantum theory. Chemists take a particular interest in the vibrational Raman effect. In 1998, the American Chemical Society declared the Raman Effect to be a National Historic Chemical Landmark, honoring its significance as a technique for analyzing the structure of liquids, gases, and solids.

The Raman Effect is completely different from the process of fluorescence. In the latter case, all the incident light is completely absorbed and it causes the system to be transferred to an energetically excited state. This state is only able to transition to various lower states after a certain period of time, also known as the resonance lifetime.

The incident photon provokes a reaction in the molecule which leads to the emission of a photon with a different frequency and the molecule is then brought to either a higher or a lower energy level. In contrast to other effects, the Raman Effect can take place with any frequency of incident light, which is a noteworthy distinction. In comparison with the fluorescence effect, the Raman Effect does not take place through resonance.



Despite still being employed by the Indian Finance Service, Raman was able to secure the Curzon Research Award back in 1912. In 1913, while he was still employed by the Indian Finance Service, the Woodburn Research Medal was bestowed upon him. In 1928, the Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze in Rome honored him with the prestigious Matteucci Medal. In 1930, he was given the distinguished honor of being knighted. In a special ceremony held at the Viceroy's House (now Rashtrapati Bhavan) in New Delhi, Lord Irwin, the Viceroy of India, conferred the title of Knight Bachelor on him after his expected inclusion in the 1929 Birthday celebrations was postponed.

In 1930, he was presented with the Nobel Prize in Physics due to his research on light scattering and the discovery of the phenomenon that was eventually named after him. This made him the first non-white and Asian person to ever be awarded a Nobel Prize for Science. In 1913, Rabindranath Tagore, an Indian writer, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, becoming the first Asian to win the prestigious award.

The Royal Society awarded him the Hughes Medal in the year 1930 as a recognition of his achievements. In 1941, The Franklin Institute in the city of Philadelphia bestowed upon him the esteemed Franklin Medal. In the year 1954, he was honored with the Bharat Ratna award. Along with India's former Governor-General C. Rajagopalachari, the philosopher Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and other prominent politicians, were also present. In 1957, he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in recognition of his accomplishments.



At the conclusion of October 1970, Raman experienced a sudden cardiac arrest and suddenly collapsed while in his laboratory. He was taken to the hospital and the doctors there were able to diagnose his condition and sadly told him he would not live for more than four hours. Though he only had a few days left, he requested to reside in the gardens of his institute in the company of his followers.

Just two days before Raman passed away, he spoke to one of his former students, urging them to make sure the journals of the Academy do not fade away; for they are a very important factor that reflects the level of scientific activity in the nation, and the extent to which science is being cultivated. Upon his death, he expressed a desire that his wife should carry out a simple cremation, without any rituals or ceremonies. His life came to an end due to natural causes in the early hours of the morning on 21 November 1970 at the age of 82.



Dr. C.V. Raman was a highly esteemed Indian physicist and a renowned figure in the field of spectroscopy due to his remarkable discovery of the Raman Effect. His work made substantial progress in the area of light and matter, and the results of his findings have had an extensive effect on science and technology.

Raman was a person of immense vision, with a deep-rooted enthusiasm for science and an incurable inquisitiveness that spurred his research. His groundbreaking research into the diffraction of light by molecules was rewarded with the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930, making history as the first Indian to win the prestigious award. Raman's important contributions to the scientific community extended far beyond his remarkable findings related to the Raman Effect.

His tireless efforts to promote science and scientific research in India were widely acclaimed, and his influence in setting up various scientific research and educational establishments in India was invaluable. Raman's impact on the scientific and research community is still felt today and continues to inspire those who follow in his footsteps.

His remarkable dedication to scientific curiosity, determination, and innovation has left behind an incredible legacy which will always be remembered in the field of physics. In summation, the immense achievements of Dr. C.V. Raman, a pioneering physicist and visionary, have had a significant and lasting effect on our knowledge and comprehension of the natural environment.

His pioneering work on the Raman Effect has been a driving force behind the immense progress in the study of spectroscopy, and his ceaseless support of science-related initiatives in India has enabled a new wave of scientists and researchers to emerge. His life and work have been a source of inspiration for us all, reminding us of the power of scientific questioning and of the possibilities of human creativity to have a good effect on the world.

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