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Prof. S. Chandrasekhar

Prof Sivaramakrishna Chandrasekhar (6th August 1930 – 8th March 2004), the eminent liquid crystal physicist was the pioneer researcher in this area in India. He was responsible for placing India on the international map of research in Liquid crystals. He founded Centre for Liquid Crystals Research at Bangalore after retirement from RRI and was the Director till 1998.

Early Years and Education

Prof Chandrasekhar, born on 6th August 1930 at Calcutta to Sashiah Sivaramakrishnan and Sitalakshmi. His father was Accountant General and Chadrasekhar was the fourth of five sons. His primary, middle and secondary school education was at different places like Calcutta, Delhi, Nagpur, Madras and Coimbatore. He obtained BSc (Hons) and MSc in 1951 from Nagpur University. He then joined Raman Research Institute to work under the guidance of Prof C V Raman and obtained DSc from the Nagpur university in 1954. Later he went to Cambridge University, UK and obtained PhD degree in 1957.


Prof Chandrasekhar started his career at Raman Research Institute, Bangalore as Senior Research Scholar during 1950-54. He was Post Doctoral Fellow of DSIR at the University College, London during 1957-59 and Research fellow at Royal Institution during 1959-1961. He was appointed as the first Professor and Head of the department of Physics at Mysore University from 1961 to 1971. Prof Chandrasekhar was invited by RRI to establish Liquid Crystals Lab and so he moved to RRI in 1971. He retired from RRI in 1990 as Professor and Head of Liquid Crystals Lab. During 1986-87 he was the Nehru Visiting Professor at Cavendish Lab, University of Cambridge, UK. In 1991 he started the Centre for Liquid Crystals Research in Bangalore and was its Director till 1998. Subsequently he continued as honorary professor.

Scientific Work

Prof Chandrasekhar was the first to start Liquid crystals research in India. He predicted and discovered discotic liquid crystals. His well known contribution is to the application of the dynamical theory of reflections to study the fascinating optical properties of cholesteric liquid crystals which have a helical structure with a pitch which is usually approximately 0.5µm and to the extensions of the molecular theory of nematic liquid crystals beyond the MS model. The pinnacle of his career was the discovery of new type of liquid crystal made of new type of molecules. These had the shape of discs rather than the well studied rods. The discs exhibit columnar liquid crystals which have two dimensional periodic order. A few thousand compounds with disc like molecules have since been synthesized. The columnar liquid crystals are being explored for their highly anisotropic conducting properties useful in many device applications.


Prof Chandrasekhar was elected as fellow of Indian Academy of sciences in 1962; Indian National Science academy in 1978; Royal Society of London in 1983; Institute of Physics in London – Third world Academy of Sciences in 1983.


Prof Chandrasekhar was the founder president of the International Liquid Crystals Society during 1990-92 and the Indian Liquid Crystal Society till the end. He was named one of the honored members of Interantional Liquid Crystal Society in 1998. He was the editor of the Journal of Molecular Crystals and Liquid Crystals for 20 years.

Awards & Distinctions

Prof Chandrasekhar was the recipient of many awards and distinctions. He received CSIR Silver Jubilee award in 1972; SS Bhatnagar pize in 1972; FICCI award in 1979; CV Raman Award in 1981; IACS Mahendra Lal Sircar Award in 1984; INSA Homi Bhabha Medal in 1987; C.V. Raman centenary medal 1988; Jawaharlal Nehru award 1991; Meghnad Saha Medal 1992; Indian Physics Association R D Birla Award in 1992; C. V. Raman birth centenary award 1993; Royal Society of London Medal 1994; UNESCO Niels Bohr Gold Medal in 1998 and Russian Liquid Crystal Society Freedericksz Medal in 2000. He was also honored with Karnataka Rajyothsava Award in 1986; Padma Bhushan in 1998; Chevalier dans L’Order des Palmes Academiques in 1999. Prof Chandrasekhar was awarded the Sc.D degree from Cambridge University in 1987 and D.Sc(hc) degree of the University of Mysore.

Born 6th August 1930
Calcutta, India
Died 8th March 2004
Bangalore, India
Field: Liquid Crystals
Institutions Raman Reseach Institute, Bangalore
University College, London
Mysore University, Mysore
University of Cambridge, UK.
Center for Soft Matter Research
Alma mater Nagpur University
Awards CSIR Silver Jubilee award (1972)
SS Bhatnagar pize (1972)
FICCI award (1979)
CV Raman Award (1981)
IACS Mahendra lal Sircar Award (1984)
Karnataka Rajyotsava Award (1986)
INSA Homi Bhabha Medal (1987)
C.V. Raman centenary Award (1988)
Jawaharlal Nehru award (1991)
Meghnad Saha Medal (1992)
RD Birla Award (1992)
C.V. Raman birth centenary Award (1993)
Royal Society of London Medal (1994)
UNESCO Niels Bohr Gold Medal (1998)
Padma Bhushan, GOI (1998)
Chevalier dans L’Order des Palmes Academiques (1999)
Russian Liquid Crystal Society Freedericksz Medal (2000)

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