C.V. Raman: Discovered “The Raman Effect”

C. V. Raman discovered that when light interacts with a molecule the light can donate a small amount of energy to the molecule. As a result of this, the light changes its color and the molecule vibrates. The change of color can act as a ‘fingerprint’ for the molecule. For his pioneering work on scattering of light, C.V. Raman won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930.

Today Raman spectroscopy, which relies on these ‘fingerprints,’ is used in laboratories all over the world to identify molecules and to analyze living cells and tissues to detect diseases such as cancer.

Quick facts

FULL NAME :  Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman

FAMOUS AS : Physicians


BORN ON : 07 November 1888 AD

BIRTHDAY : 07 November


SUN SIGN : Scorpio

PLACE OF BIRTH : Tiruchirappalli, Madras Province

DIED ON : 21 November 1970 AD

PLACE OF DEATH : Bangalore, India

AWARDS:  Nobel Prize in Physics (1930)
Bharat Ratna (1954)
SPOUSE : Lokasundari Ammal (1907–1970)


Major Works

He is best known for discovering the ‘Raman Effect’, or the inelastic scattering of a photon. He showed through experimentation that when light traverses a transparent material, some of the deflected light changes in wavelength. This was a ground breaking discovery in early 20th century physics.

Early Life and Carrier

He was the second child of Chandrasekhar Iyer and Parvathi Amma. His father was a lecturer in mathematics and physics, so he had an academic atmosphere at home. He entered Presidency College, Madras, in 1902, and in 1904 passed his B.A. examination, winning the first place and the gold medal in physics. In 1907, C.V.

Raman passed his M.A. obtaining the highest distinctions. During those times there were not many opportunities for scientists in India. Therefore, Raman joined the Indian Finance Department in 1907. After his office hours, he carried out his experimental research in the laboratory of the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science at Calcutta. He carried out research in acoustics and optics. In 1917, Raman was offered the position of Sir Taraknath Palit Professorship of Physics at Calcutta University. He stayed there for the next fifteen years. During his tenure there, he received world wide recognition for his work in optics and scattering of light. He was elected to the Royal Society of London in 1924 and the British made him a knight of the British Empire in 1929. In 1930, Sir C.V. Raman was awarded with Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on scattering of light. The discovery was later christened as “Raman Effect”.

In 1934, C.V. Raman became the director of the newly established Indian Institute of Sciences in Bangalore, where two years later he continued as a professor of physics.

Other Discoveries

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. 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. Raman’s work on acoustics was an important prelude, both experimentally and conceptually, to his later work on optics and quantum mechanics.

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. Modulators, and switching systems based on this effect have enabled optical communication components based on laser systems.



At the end of October 1970, he collapsed in his laboratory, the valves of his heart having given way. He was moved to the hospital and the doctors gave him four days 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. Raman died from natural causes early morning on 21 November 1970.

Awards and Achievements Of C. V. Raman

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society early in his career (1924) and knighted in 1929. Raman was the only Indian F.R.S., who resigned from the Fellowship of the Royal Society.

In 1930 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics.

In 1941 he was awarded the Franklin Medal.

In 1954 he was awarded the Bharat Ratna.

In 1957 he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize.

In 1998, the American Chemical Society and Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science recognised Raman’s discovery as an International Historic Chemical Landmark.

India celebrates National Science Day on 28 February of every year to commemorate the discovery of the Raman effect in 1928.

Quotes and Sayings by C.V. Raman

You can’t always choose who comes into your life but you can learn what lesson they teach you.
If someone judges you, they are wasting space in their mind… Best part, it’s their problem.
Treat me right and you will see the light…Treat me wrong and you will be gone!!

Some Unknown Facts About C.V. Raman

1. Raman attended school on a scholarship at the age 13.

2. In 1954, he was honored with the highest civilian award in India, the Bharat Ratna.

3. In 1928 he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Physics but lost to Owen Richardson.

4. In 1917, Raman resigned from his government service after he was appointed the first Palit Professor of Physics at the University of Calcutta.

5. Raman retired from the Indian Institute of Science in 1944 and established the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, Karnataka a year later.

6.He lost another Nobel Prize of Physics to Louis de Brogile in 1929.

7. Raman was president of the 16th session of the Indian Science Congress of 1929.

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

9. He was the first Asian and the first non-white person to receive any Nobel Prize in the sciences.

10. Despite his focus on the sciences, Raman is also known for his writings, for which he also received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

11. He started the Travancore Chemical and Manufacturing Co., Ltd., company in 1943, which manufactured potassium chlorate for the match industry.

Books by C.V. Raman

Why the Sky is Blue: Dr. C.V. Raman Talks about Science

The new physics

Molecular Diffraction of Light


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