C. V. Raman

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Sir Chandrashekhara Venkata Raman

Sir CV Raman.JPG
Born(1888-11-07)7 November 1888
Died21 November 1970(1970-11-21) (aged 82)
Alma mater Presidency College, University of Madras
Known for Raman effect
Spouse(s)Lokasundari Ammal (1907–1970)
Awards Matteucci Medal (1928)
Knight Bachelor (1929)
Hughes Medal (1930)
Nobel Prize in Physics (1930)
Bharat Ratna (1954)
Lenin Peace Prize (1957)

Fellow of the Royal Society [1]
Scientific career
Fields Physics
Institutions Indian Finance Department [2]
University of Calcutta
Banaras Hindu University
Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science
Indian Institute of Science
Raman Research Institute
Doctoral students G. N. Ramachandran
Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai
Shivaramakrishnan Pancharatnam
K. S. Viswanathan
Other notable students Kariamanickam Srinivasa Krishnan
K. R. Ramanathan
Chandrashekhara Venkata Raman, signature.svg

Sir Chandrashekhara Venkata Raman [1] ( /ˈrɑːmən/ ; [3] 7 November 1888 21 November 1970) was an Indian physicist born in the former Madras Province in India (presently the state of Tamil Nadu), who carried out ground-breaking work in the field of light scattering, which earned him the 1930 Nobel Prize for Physics. He discovered that when light traverses a transparent material, some of the deflected light changes wavelength and amplitude. This phenomenon, subsequently known as Raman scattering, results from the Raman effect. [4] In 1954, the Indian government honoured him with India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna. [5] [6]

India Country in South Asia

India, also known as the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by area and with more than 1.3 billion people, it is the second most populous country as well as the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.

Tamil Nadu State in Southern India

Tamil Nadu, formerly Madras State, is one of the 29 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian subcontinent and is bordered by the union territory of Puducherry and the South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. It is bounded by the Eastern Ghats on the north, by the Nilgiri Mountains, the Meghamalai Hills, and Kerala on the west, by the Bay of Bengal in the east, by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait on the southeast, and by the Indian Ocean on the south. The state shares a maritime border with the nation of Sri Lanka.

Raman scattering

Raman scattering or the Raman effect is the inelastic scattering of a photon by molecules which are excited to higher energy levels. The effect was discovered in 1928 by C. V. Raman and his student K. S. Krishnan in liquids, and independently by Grigory Landsberg and Leonid Mandelstam in crystals. The effect had been predicted theoretically by Adolf Smekal in 1923.


Early life and education

C. V. Raman was born in a Tamil Hindu family to Chandrashekaran Ramanathan Iyer and Parvathi Ammal. [7] [8] Raman's father was a lecturer who taught mathematics and physics in Mrs. A.V. Narasimha Rao College, Visakhapatnam (then Vishakapatnam) in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, and later joined Presidency College in Madras (now Chennai). [2] [9]

Tamils ethnic group

The Tamil people, also known as Tamilar, Tamilans or simply Tamils, are an ethnic group who speak the language Tamil as their mother tongue and trace their ancestry to Southern India and North-eastern Sri Lanka. Tamils, with a population of around 76 million and with a documented history stretching back over 3,000 years, are one of the largest and oldest extant ethnolinguistic groups in the modern world. Tamils constitute 5.9% of the population in India, 15.3% in Sri Lanka, 6% in Mauritius, 7% in Malaysia and 5% in Singapore.

Visakhapatnam Metropolis in Andhra Pradesh, India

Visakhapatnam and Waltair ) is the largest city and the financial capital of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The city is the administrative headquarters of Visakhapatnam district and state headquarters of Indian Coast Guard. Its geographical location is amidst the Eastern Ghats and the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It is the most populous city in the state with a population of 2,035,922 as of 2011, making it the 14th largest city in the country. It is also the 9th most populous metropolitan area in India with a population of 5,018,000. With an output of $43.5 billion, Visakhapatnam is the ninth-largest contributor to India's overall gross domestic product as of 2016.

Andhra Pradesh State in southern India

Andhra Pradesh is one of the 29 states of India. Situated in the south-east of the country, it is the seventh-largest state in India, covering an area of 162,970 km2 (62,920 sq mi). As per the 2011 census, it is the tenth most populous state, with 49,386,799 inhabitants. The largest city in Andhra Pradesh is Visakhapatnam. Telugu, one of the classical languages of India, is the major and official language of Andhra Pradesh.

He was born in Trichy, Tamil Nadu. Raman was the second child of his parents, Chandrasekhar and Parvati Ammal and was born in Tiruvanaikkaval, at his maternal grandfather's house. At an early age, Raman moved to the city of Visakhapatnam and studied at St. Aloysius Anglo-Indian High School. Raman passed his matriculation examination at the age of 11 and he passed his F.A. examination (equivalent to today's Intermediate exam, PUCPDC and +2) with a scholarship at the age of 13.

The pre-university course or pre-degree course, popularly abbreviated to PUC or PDC, is an intermediate course of two years' duration, conducted by state education institutions or boards in India. This pre-university course is also known as the Plus-two or Intermediate course. A person desiring admission to an Indian university must pass this course, which can be considered as a degree bridge course to prepare students for university education.

In 1902, Raman joined Presidency College in Madras where his father was a lecturer in mathematics and physics. [10] In 1904 he passed his Bachelor of Arts examination of University of Madras. He stood first and won the gold medal in physics. In 1907 he gained his Master of Sciences degree with the highest distinctions from University of Madras. [2]

Presidency College, Chennai arts, law and science college in the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, India

Presidency College is an arts, law and science college in the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, India. Established as the Madras Preparatory School on 16 October 1840 and later, upgraded to a high school and then, graduate college, the Presidency College is one of the oldest government arts colleges in India. It is one of the two Presidency colleges established by the British in India, the other being the Presidency College, Kolkata.

A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.

Master of Science masters degree awarded for post-graduate study in the sciences, or occasionally social sciences

A Master of Science is a master's degree in the field of science awarded by universities in many countries or a person holding such a degree. In contrast to the Master of Arts degree, the Master of Science degree is typically granted for studies in sciences, engineering and medicine and is usually for programs that are more focused on scientific and mathematical subjects; however, different universities have different conventions and may also offer the degree for fields typically considered within the humanities and social sciences. While it ultimately depends upon the specific program, earning a Master of Science degree typically includes writing a thesis.


In the year 1917, Raman resigned from his government service after he was appointed the first Palit Professor of Physics at the University of Calcutta. At the same time, he continued doing research at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), Calcutta, where he became the Honorary Secretary. Raman used to refer to this period as the golden era of his career. Many students gathered around him at the IACS and the University of Calcutta. In 1926 Prof. Raman established [11] the Indian Journal of Physics and he was the first editor. The second volume of the Journal published his famous article "A New Radiation", [12] reporting the discovery of Raman Effect.

The Palit Chair of Physics is a physics professorship in the University of Calcutta, India. The post is named after Sir Taraknath Palit who donated Rs. 1.5 million to the university. The Nobel laurete physicist C. V. Raman was the first to be appointed to the post of Palit Professor of Physics in 1917. At present the holder of the chair is Amitava Raychaudhuri.

University of Calcutta public state university in Kolkata, West Bengal

The University of Calcutta is a collegiate public state university located in Kolkata, West Bengal, India established on 24 January 1857. It was the first institution in Asia to be established as a multidisciplinary and secular Western-style university.

Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science An institute of higher learning in Kolkata, India. Established in 1876 by Mahendra Lal Sircar, a private medical practitioner, it focuses on fundamental research in basic sciences.

Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) is an institute of higher learning in Kolkata, India. Established in 1876 by Mahendra Lal Sarkar, a private medical practitioner, it focuses on fundamental research in basic sciences. It is India's oldest research institute Located at Jadavpur, South Kolkata beside Jadavpur University, Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute and Indian Institute of Chemical Biology it is spread over a limited area of 9.5 acres.. In May 2018, the Ministry of Human Resource Development announced that IACS had been granted the status of Deemed University under De-novo Category under section 3 of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act 1956.

Energy level diagram showing the states involved in Raman signal Raman energy levels.svg
Energy level diagram showing the states involved in Raman signal
Raman at the 1930 Nobel Prize Award Ceremony with other winners, from left Venkata Raman (physics), Hans Fischer (chemistry), Karl Landsteiner (medicine) and Sinclair Lewis (literature) Nobel ceremony 1930.jpg
Raman at the 1930 Nobel Prize Award Ceremony with other winners, from left Venkata Raman (physics), Hans Fischer (chemistry), Karl Landsteiner (medicine) and Sinclair Lewis (literature)

On 28 February 1928, Raman led an experiment with K. S. Krishnan, on the scattering of light, when he discovered what now is called the Raman effect. [13] A detailed account of this period is reported in the biography by G. Venkataraman. [6] It was instantly clear that this discovery was of huge value. It gave further proof of the quantum nature of light. Raman had a complicated professional relationship with K. S. Krishnan, who surprisingly did not share the award, but is mentioned prominently even in the Nobel lecture. [14]

K. S. Krishnan Indian physicist

Sir Kariamanickam Srinivasa Krishnan, FRS, was an Indian physicist. He was a co-discoverer of Raman scattering, for which his mentor C. V. Raman was awarded the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Raman spectroscopy came to be based on this phenomenon, and Ernest Rutherford referred to it in his presidential address to the Royal Society in 1929. Raman was president of the 16th session of the Indian Science Congress in 1929. He was conferred a knighthood, and medals and honorary doctorates by various universities. Raman was confident of winning the Nobel Prize in Physics as well but was disappointed when the Nobel Prize went to Owen Richardson in 1928 and to Louis de Broglie in 1929. He was so confident of winning the prize in 1930 that he booked tickets in July, even though the awards were to be announced in November, and would scan each day's newspaper for announcement of the prize, tossing it away if it did not carry the news. [15] He did eventually win the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his work on the scattering of light and for the discovery of the Raman effect". [16] He is the first Asian and first non-white to receive any Nobel Prize in the sciences. Before him Rabindranath Tagore (also Indian) had received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

Raman and Suri Bhagavantam discovered the quantum photon spin in 1932, which further confirmed the quantum nature of light. [17]

Raman had association with the Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi; he attended the foundation ceremony of BHU [18] and delivered lectures on "Mathematics" and "Some new paths in physics" during the lecture series organised at BHU from 5 to 8 February 1916. [19] He also held the position of permanent visiting professor at BHU. [20]

During his tenure at IISc, he recruited the talented electrical engineering student, G. N. Ramachandran, who later went on to become a distinguished X-ray crystallographer.

Raman also worked on the acoustics of musical instruments. He worked out the theory of transverse vibration of bowed strings, on the basis of superposition velocities. He was also the first to investigate the harmonic nature of the sound of the Indian drums such as the tabla and the mridangam. [21] He was also interested in the properties of other musical instruments based on forced vibrations such as the violin. He also investigated the propagation of sound in whispering galleries. [22] Raman's work on acoustics was an important prelude, both experimentally and conceptually, to his later work on optics and quantum mechanics. [23]

Raman and his student, Nagendra Nath, provided the correct theoretical explanation for the acousto-optic effect (light scattering by sound waves), in a series of articles resulting in the celebrated Raman–Nath theory. [24] Modulators, and switching systems based on this effect have enabled optical communication components based on laser systems.

Raman was succeeded by Debendra Mohan Bose as the Palit Professor in 1932. In 1933, Raman left IACS to join Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore as its first Indian director. [25] Other investigations carried out by Raman were 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.

He also started the company called Travancore Chemical and Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (now known as TCM Limited) which manufactured potassium chlorate for the match industry [26] in 1943 along with Dr. Krishnamurthy. The Company subsequently established four factories in Southern India. In 1947, he was appointed as the first National Professor by the new government of Independent India. [27]

In 1948, Raman, through studying the spectroscopic behaviour of crystals, approached in a new manner fundamental problems of crystal dynamics. He dealt with the structure and properties of diamond, the structure and optical behaviour of numerous iridescent substances (labradorite, pearly feldspar, agate, opal, and pearls). Among his other interests were the optics of colloids, electrical and magnetic anisotropy, and the physiology of human vision.

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

Personal life

He was married on 6 May 1907 to Lokasundari Ammal (1892–1980). [28] They had two sons, Chandrashekhar and radio-astronomer Radhakrishnan.

Raman was the paternal uncle of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who later 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. [29]

Throughout his life, Raman developed an extensive personal collection of stones, minerals, and materials with interesting light-scattering properties, which he obtained from his world travels and as gifts. [30] He often carried a small, handheld spectroscope to study specimens. [31] These are on display at the Raman Research Institute, where he worked and taught.


The Nobel Prize

In the past, several questions were raised about Raman not sharing the Prize with the Russian scientists G.S. Landsberg and L.I. Mandelstam, who had observed the same effect in the case of crystals. According to the Physics Nobel Committee: (1) The Russians did not come to an independent interpretation of their discovery as they cited Raman's article. (2) They observed the effect only in crystals, whereas Raman and K.S. Krishnan in solids, liquids and gases. With that, he proved the universal nature of the effect. (3) The uncertainties concerning the explanation of the intensity of Raman- and Infrared lines in the spectra could be explained during the last year. (4) The Raman method has been applied with great success in different fields of molecular physics. (5) The Raman effect has effectively helped to check the actual problems of the symmetry – properties of molecules thus the problems concerning the nuclear-spin in the atomic physics." The Nobel Committee proposed Raman's name to the Swedish National Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, for the Nobel Prize for the year 1930. [32]

Lattice dynamics

"At the end of the 1930s and the beginning of the 1940s, scientists observed diffuse spots in X-ray Laue photographs that were difficult to explain theoretically. Already at this stage, Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman suggested a theory of his own and criticised alternative solutions that were largely based on thermal theories proposed by Max Born and Peter Debye. This led to a conflict between Born and Raman. In this dispute, Born received support from the British crystallographer Kathleen Lonsdale. [33] The dispute between Raman and Born involved scientific as well as social elements. Whereas Raman's support came mainly from his own experiments and from his colleagues in Bangalore, Born used his social and professional network to enlist scientists as allies for his cause. Although initially, in the early 1940s, Born's theory was not generally accepted even in England, he eventually succeeded in marginalising the rival theory of Raman. The controversy has often been dealt with by physicists and historians of science, who, however, have too often relied on Born's autobiographical work. As has been shown, parts of this work, especially as it relates to Born's Indian visit and his contact with Raman, need careful and critical reading. In particular, the issue of Raman's resignation from the directorship of the IISc had nothing to do with Born's stay in India, such as indicated in his autobiography." [34] Up to some extent, this controversy led to the fact that Max Born had to wait for the Nobel Prize. [35]


During a voyage to Europe in 1921, Raman noticed the blue colour of glaciers and the Mediterranean sea. He was motivated to discover the reason for the navy blue colour. Raman carried out experiments regarding the scattering of light by water and transparent blocks of ice which explained the phenomenon.

Raman employed monochromatic light from a mercury arc lamp which penetrated transparent material and was allowed to fall on a spectrograph to record its spectrum. He detected lines in the spectrum, which were later called Raman lines. He presented his theory at a meeting of scientists in Bangalore on 16 March 1928, and won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930. In Munich, some physicists were initially unable to reproduce Raman's results, leading to scepticism. However, Peter Pringsheim was the first German to reproduce Raman's results successfully. He sent spectra to Arnold Sommerfeld. Pringsheim was the first to coin the term "Raman effect" and "Raman lines." [36]

Honours and awards

Raman on a 1971 stamp of India CV Raman 1971 stamp of India.jpg
Raman on a 1971 stamp of India
Bust of Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman which is placed in the garden of Birla Industrial & Technological Museum. CV Raman bust BITM.JPG
Bust of Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman which is placed in the garden of Birla Industrial & Technological Museum.

Raman was honoured with a large number of honorary doctorates and memberships of scientific societies.

India celebrates National Science Day on 28 February of every year to commemorate the discovery of the Raman effect in 1928. [40] Postal stamps featuring Raman were issued in 1971 and 2009. [41]

Archive of Raman Research Papers

The Raman Research Institute, founded by Raman after his tenure at IISc, curates a collection of Raman's research papers, and articles on the web. [42]


At the end of October 1970, Raman collapsed in his laboratory, the valves of his heart had given way. He was moved to the hospital and the doctors gave him four days to live. He survived and after a few days he refused to stay in the hospital as he preferred to die in the gardens of his Institute surrounded by his followers. [43]

Two days before Raman died, he told one of his former students, "Do not allow the journals of the Academy to die, for they are the sensitive indicators of the quality of science being done in the country and whether science is taking root in it or not." That same evening, Raman met with the Board of Management of his Institute and discussed (from his bed) with them any proceedings with regards to the Institute's management. Raman died from natural causes early next morning on 21 November 1970. [43]

Posthumous recognition and contemporary references

See also

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Further reading