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Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman

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Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman

Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman
Born (1888-11-07)7 November 1888
Thiruvanaikoil, Trichinopoly, Madras Province, British India
Died 21 November 1970(1970-11-21) (aged 82)
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Nationality Indian
Fields Physics
Institutions Indian Finance Department[1]
University of Calcutta
Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science
Indian Institute of Science
Central College, Bangalore University
Raman Research Institute
Alma mater University of Madras
Doctoral students G. N. Ramachandran
Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai
Known for Raman effect
Notable awards Knight Bachelor (1929)
Nobel Prize in Physics (1930)
Bharat Ratna (1954)
Lenin Peace Prize (1957)

Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, FRS (7 November 1888 – 21 November 1970) was an Indian physicist whose work was influential in the growth of science in India. He was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930 for the discovery that when light traverses a transparent material, some of the deflected light changes in wavelength. This phenomenon is now called Raman scattering and is the result of the Raman effect.

Early years

Venkata Raman was born in Thiruvanaikaval, Trichinopoly, Madras Province, in British India to R. Chandrasekhara Iyer (b. 1866) and Parvati Ammal (Saptarshi Parvati).[2] He was the second of their five children. At an early age, Raman moved to the city of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, and studied in St. Aloysius Anglo-Indian High School. His father was a lecturer in mathematics and physics at Presidency College in Madras, which Raman entered in 1902 at the age of 13.[3] In 1904 he passed his B.A. examination in first place and won the gold medal in physics, and in 1907 he gained his M.A. degree with the highest distinctions.[1]


In 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.

On 28 February 1928, Raman led experiments at the IACS with collaborators, including K. S. Krishnan, on the scattering of light, when he discovered the Raman effect. A detailed account of this period is reported in the biography by G. Venkatraman.[4] 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. Krishan, who surprisingly did not share the award, but is mentioned prominently even in the Nobel lecture.[5]

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 Richardson in 1928 and to 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. 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". He was 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 Bhagavantam discovered the quantum photon spin in 1932, which further confirmed the quantum nature of light.[6]

During his tenure at IISc, he recruited the then talented electrical engineering student, G. N. Ramachandran, who later was a distinguished X-ray crystallographer himself.

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.

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.[7] 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.[8] 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 a company called Travancore Chemical and Manufacturing Co. Ltd. in 1943 along with Dr. Krishnamurthy. The Company during its sixty year history established four factories in Southern India. In 1947, he was appointed as the first National Professor by the new government of Independent India.

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.[9]

Personal life

He was married on 6 May 1907 to Lokasundari Ammal (1892–1980[10]) with whom he had two sons, Chandrasekhar and Radhakrishnan.

On his religious views, he was said to be an agnostic.[11][12]

Raman retired from the Indian Institute of Science in 1944 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

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.


For compact work, see: Scientific Papers of CV Raman, S. Ramaseshan (ed.).

  • Vol. 1 – Scattering of Light (Ed. S Ramaseshan)
  • Vol. 2 – Acoustic
  • Vol. 3 – Optica
  • Vol. 4 – Optics of Minerals and Diamond
  • Vol. 5 – Physics of Crystals
  • Vol. 6 – Floral Colours and Visual Perception

Honours and awards

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.[15]

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.[16]


  • "The Small Motion at the Nodes of a Vibrating String", Nature, 1909
  • "The Maintenance of Forced Oscillations of a New Type", Nature, 1909
  • "The Ectara", J. Indian Math. Club, 1909
  • "The Maintenance of Forced Oscillations", Nature, 1910
  • "Oscillations of the Stretched Strings", J. Indian Math. Club, 1910
  • "Photographs of Vibrational Curves", Philos. Mag., 1911
  • "Remarks on a Paper by J.S. Stokes on 'Some Curious Phenomena Observed in Connection with Melde's Experiment'", Physics Rev., 1911
  • "The Small Motion at the Nodes of a Vibrating String", Phys. Rev., 1911
  • "The Maintenance of Forced Oscillations of a New Type", Philos. Mag, 1912
  • "Some Remarkable Cases of Resonance", Phys. Rev. 1912
  • "Experimental Investigations on the Maintenance of Vibrations", Bull. Indian Assoc. Cultiv. Sci., 1912
  • "Some Acoustical Observations", Bull. Indian Assoc. Cultiv. Sci., 1913
  • "The Dynamical Theory of the Motion of Bowed Strings", Bull. Indian Assoc. Cultiv. Sci., 1914
  • "The Maintenance of Vibrations", Phys. Rev. 1914
  • "Dynamical Theory of the Motion of Bowed Strings", Bulletin, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, 1914
  • "On Motion in a Periodic Field of Force", Bull. Indian Assoc. Cultiv. Sci., 1914
  • "On the Maintenance of Combinational Vibrations by Two Simple Harmonic forces", Phys. Rev., 1915
  • "On Motion in a Periodic Field of Force", Philos. Mag, 1915
  • "On Discontinuous Wave-Motion – Part 1", Philos. Mag, 1916 (with S Appaswamair)
  • "On the 'Wolf-Note' of the Violin and Cello", Nature (London). 1916
  • "On the 'Wolf-Note' in the Bowed Stringed Instruments", Philos. Mag., 1916
  • "The Maintenance of Vibrations in a Periodic Field of Force", Philos. Mag, 1917 (with A. Dey)
  • "On Discontinuous Wave-Motion – Part 2", Philos. Mag, 1917 (with A Dey)
  • "On Discontinuous Wave-Motion – Part 3", Philos. Mag, 1917 (with A Dey)
  • "On the Alterations of Tone Produced by a Violin 'Mute'", Nature (London) 1917
  • "On the 'Wolf-Note' in the Bowed Stringed Instruments", Philos. Mag., 1918
  • "On the Wolf-Note in Pizzicato Playing", Nature (London), 1918
  • "On the Mechanical Theory of the Vibrations of Bowed Strings and of Musical Instruments of the Violin Family, with Experimental Verification of Results – Part 1", Bulletin, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, 1918
  • "The Theory of the Cyclical Vibrations of a Bowed String", Bulletin, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, 1918
  • "An Experimental Method for the Production of Vibrations", Phys. Rev., 1919
  • "A New Method for the Absolute Determination of Frequency", Proc. R. Soc. London, 1919
  • "On the Partial Tones of Bowed Stringed Instruments", Philos. Mag, 1919
  • "The Kinematics of Bowed Strings", J. Dept of Sci., Univ. Calcutta, 1919
  • "On the Sound of Splashes", Philos. Mag, 1920
  • "On a Mechanical Violin-Player for Acoustical Experiments, Philos. Mag., 1920
  • "Experiments with Mechanically-Played Violins", Proc. Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, 1920
  • "On Kaufmann's Theory of the Impact of the Pianoforte Hammer", Proc. S. Soc. London, 1920 (with B Banerji)
  • "Musical Drums with Harmonic Overtones", Nature (London), 1920 (with S. Kumar)
  • "Whispering Gallery Phenomena at St. Paul's Cathedral", Nature (London) 1921 (with G.A. Sutherland)
  • "The Nature of Vowel Sounds", Nature (London) 1921
  • "On the Whispering Gallery Phenomenon", Proc. R. Soc. London, 1922 (with G.A. Sutherland)
  • "On Some Indian Stringed Instruments", Proc. Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, 1921
  • "On Whispering Galleries", Indian Assoc. Cultiv. Sci., 1922
  • "On the Molecular Scattering of Light in Water and the Colour of the Sea", Proceedings of the Royal Society, 1922
  • "The Acoustical Knowledge of the Ancient Hindus", Asutosh Mookerjee Silver Jubilee – Vol 2,
  • "The Subjective Analysis of Musical Tones", Nature (London), 1929
  • "Musical Instruments and Their Tones"
  • "A new type of Secondary Radiation", Nature, 1928
  • "A new radiation", Indian Journal of Physics, 1928
  • "The Indian Musical Drums", Proc. Indian Acad. Sci., 1935
  • "The Diffraction of Light by High Frequency Sound Waves: Part I", Proc. Indian Acad. Sci., 1935 (with N. S. Nagendra Nath)
  • "The Diffraction of Light by High Frequency Sound Waves: Part II", Proc. Indian Acad. Sci., 1935 (with N. S. Nagendra Nath)
  • "Nature of Thermal Agitation in Liquids", Nature (London), 1935 (with B.V. Raghavendra Rao)
  • "The Diffraction of Light by High Frequency Sound Waves: Part III: Doppler Effect and Coherence Phenomena", Proc. Indian Acad. Sci., 1936 (with N. S. Nagendra Nath)
  • "The Diffraction of Light by High Frequency Sound Waves: Part IV: Generalised Theory", Proc. Indian Acad. Sci., 1936 (with N. S. Nagendra Nath)
  • "The Diffraction of Light by High Frequency Sound Waves: Part V: General Considerations – Oblique Incidence and Amplitude Changes", Proc. Indian Acad. Sci., 1936 (with N. S. Nagendra Nath)
  • "Diffraction of Light by Ultrasonic Waves", Nature (London), 1936 (with N. S. Nagendra Nath)
  • "Acoustic Spectrum of Liquids", Nature (London), 1937 (with B.V. Raghavendra Rao)
  • "Light Scattering and Fluid Viscosity", Nature (London), 1938 (with B.V. Raghavendra Rao)
  • Aspects of Science, 1948
  • The New Physics: Talks on Aspects of Science, 1951
  • "The structure and optical behaviour of iridescent opal", Proc. Indian. Acad. Sci. A38 1953 (with A. Jayaraman)
  • Lectures on Physical Optics, 1959


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

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 passed away from natural causes early next morning, 21 November 1970.

See also



  • G. Venkataraman, 'Journey into light: life and science of C. V. Raman,' Indian Academy of Science, 1988. ISBN 818532400X.

Further reading

  • Ramaseshan S: C.V.Raman. Journal of Madras University, section B, Sept.1983, 46(1): 1–16.
  • Scientific Papers of CV Raman, Ed. S Ramaseshan, Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore 1988.
  • Sri Kantha S: The discovery of the Raman Effect and its impact in Biological Sciences. European Spectroscopy News, Aug/Sept. 1988, no.80, 20, 22, 24 & 26.
  • Sri Kantha S: Raman's prize. Nature, 1989; 340: 672.
  • Fabelinski I,L. Priority and the Raman Effect. Nature, 1990; 343: 686.

External links

  • Nobel Foundation
  • Nobel prize internet archive
  • Path creator – C.V. Raman
  • Nobel Lecture
  • Archive of all scientific papers of C.V. Raman
  • Raman Effect: fingerprinting the universe

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