On November 7 1888, Indian physicist and Nobel Laureate Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was born. Raman carried out ground-breaking work in the field of light scattering, which earned him the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics. He discovered that when light traverses a transparent material, some of the deflected light changes in wavelength. This phenomenon, subsequently known as Raman scattering, results from the Raman effect.
Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman first studied at the Presidency College in Madras, and later received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Madras. In 1907 he gained his Master of Sciences degree with the highest distinctions from University of Madras. Raman was appointed the first Palit Professor of Physics at the University of Calcutta and continued his research at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science. There, the scientist led experiments with collaborators, including K. S. Krishnan, on the scattering of light, when he discovered what now is called the Raman effect. This work gave further proof of the quantum nature of light and highly contributed to the field of physics. Already in 1923, the inelastic scattering of light was predicted by Adolf Smekal, and this is why in German, it is often referred to as the Smekal-Raman effect.
The Raman spectroscopy came to be based on this phenomenon. Ernest Rutherford referred to it in his presidential address to the Royal Society in 1929. The spectrum of the Raman-scattered light depends on the molecular constituents present and their state, allowing the spectrum to be used for material identification and analysis. Raman spectroscopy is used to analyze a wide range of materials, including gases, liquids, and solids. Highly complex materials such as biological organisms and human tissue can also be analyzed by Raman spectroscopy.
In 1930, C. V. Raman won the 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 the Indian Rabindranath Tagore had received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.
References and Further Reading:
- C.V. Raman Presentation Speech at the Nobel Prize Foundation
- C.V. Raman at Famous Scientists
- C.V. Raman at Britannica