Raman Effect, Honours and The Story of the Nobel Prize

The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.

Raman Effect, Honours & The Story of the Nobel Prize

The Raman Effect

Sometimes a rainbow appears and delights our eyes. We see in it shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. The white ray of the sun includes all these colors. When a beam of sunlight is passed through a glass prism a patch of these color-bands are seen. This is called the spectrum. The Spectrometer is an apparatus used to study the spectrum. Spectral lines in it are characteristic of the light passing through the prism. A beam of light that causes a single spectral line is said to be monochromatic.

When a beam of monochromatic light passes through a transparent substance (a substance which allows light to pass through it), the beam is scattered. Raman spent a long time in the study of the scattered light. On February 28, 1928, he observed two low intensity spectral lines corresponding to the incident monochromatic light. Years of his labour had borne fruit. It was clear that though the incident light was monochromatic, the scattered light due to it, was not monochromatic.Thus Raman’s experiments discovered a phenomenon which was lying hidden in nature.

The 16th of March 1928 is a memorable day in the history of science. On that day a meeting was held under the joint auspices of the South Indian Science Association and the Science Club of Central College, Bangalore; Raman was the Chief Guest. He announced the new phenomenon discovered by him to the world. He also acknowledged with affection the assistance given by K.S. Krishnan and Venkateshwaran, who were his students.

The phenomenon attracted the attention of research workers all over the world. It became famous as the ‘Raman Effect’. The spectral lines in the scattered light were known as ‘Raman Lines’.

Is light wave-like or particle-like? This question has been discussed from time to time by scientists. The Raman Effect confirmed that light was made up of particles known as ‘photons’. It helped in the study of the molecular and crystal structures of different substances.

Investigations making use of the Raman Effect began in many countries. During the first twelve years after its discovery, about 1800 research papers were published on various aspects of it and about 2500 chemical compounds were studied. Raman Effect was highly praised as one of the greatest discoveries of the third decade of this century.

After the ‘lasers’ (devices that produce intense beams of light, their name coming from the initial letters of Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) came into use in the 1960s, it became easier to get monochromatic light of very high intensity for experiments. This brought back scientific interest in Raman Effect, and the interest remains alive to this day.

Honours & Nobel Prize

Raman received many honours from all over the world for his achievement. In 1928 the Science Society of Rome awarded the Matteucci Medal. In 1929 the British Government knighted him; thereafter Professor Raman came to be known as Professor Sir C.V. Raman. The Royal Society of London awarded the Hughes Medal in 1930. Honorary doctorate degrees were awarded by the Universities of Freiburg (Germany), Glasgow (England), Paris (France), Bombay, Benaras, Dacca, Patna, Mysore and several others.
Raman Effect, Honours & The Story of the Nobel Prize 1
The highest award a scientist or a writer can get is the Nobel Prize. In 1930, the Swedish Academy of Sciences chose Raman to receive the Nobel Prize for Physics. No Indian and no Asian had received the Nobel Prize for Physics up to that time. At the ceremony for the award, Raman used alcohol to demonstrate the Raman Effect. Later in the evening alcoholic drinks were served at the dinner. But Raman did not touch them. He remained loyal to the Indian traditions.

Raman used to announce his new scientific discoveries at the annual sessions of the Academy. At the Madras session (1967) he discussed the influence of the earth’s rotation on its gaseous envelope. Next year he put forward his theory of the physiology of vision. Many countries and institutions continued to honour him. The membership of the American Optical Society (1941), the National Professorship of India (1948), the Franklin Medal of the Franklin Institute (1951), the International Lenin Prize (1957), the Membership of the Pontifical Academy of Science (1961)—these were some of the honours conferred on him.

The greatest honour the Government of India confers on an Indian is the award of ‘Bharat Ratna’. Raman became a ‘Bharat Ratna’ in 1954.

The Story of The Nobel Prize

The Nobel prize is one of the prizes known to a great part, of the non-scientific public and is considered as the highest honour to be awarded to scientists.

Raman received the Nobel prize in a record time of two years after his prize-winning discovery.

In 1929, C. Fabry from Paris recommended J. Cabannes (Montpellier) and C. V. Raman (Calcutta), whereas N. Bohr proposed that either R. W. Wood or R. W. Wood and Raman should be considered for receiving the Nobel prize for physics. In that year 48 nominators sent 97 proposals and proposed in all 29 persons. Out of these 29 persons, L. de Broglie. Cabannes, Raman and Wood were declared by the Committee as the persons who fundamentally deserved the prize: but it was L. de Broglie who finally received the Prize for that year.

For the year 1930, 39 competent persons were asked to submit proposals. Out of them, 37 persons sent proposals. There were 21 valid recommendations for a full or shared Prize. Most of the recommendations were concerned with atomic theory and atomic physics. The atomic theory proposals had been worked out by Oseen.

Out of the 21 nominations, Raman was the most suitable person; he was proposed 10 times, either as a single candidate for the Prize, or to share it with other physicists.

In that year some of the other scientists proposed included, M. Bom, A. Sommerfeld, E. Schrodinger, W. Heisenberg, H. F. Osborn, and M. N. Saha (an Indian astrophysicist).

Dr. C.V. Raman received the Nobel prize for his work on diffusion of light and for the effect named after him. The objections raised by some historians that Raman did not share the Nobel prize with others or that the Committee ignored Raman’s collaborators as well as Russian colleagues were baseless. As he was awarded the Prize not only for the Raman effect, but for other work in this field as well.

The Nobel Committee had to take the decision according to certain rules and regulations imposed on it by the Nobel Foundation. Raman was nominated 10 times and the nominators wrote convincing recommendations in favour of him; thus the Committee decided for Raman. He received the Nobel prize in record time due the practical significance of the discovery, as well as the good opinion of the famous contemporary scientists about his work.