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Stars that died 2010

Monday, December 23, 2013

P. K. Iyengar, Indian nuclear scientist, died he was 80.

Padmanabha Krishnagopala Iyengar was an eminent Indian nuclear physicist died he was 80.. He played a central role in India's nuclear experiments. He was former head of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission of India. He was vocal against the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement and expressed that the deal favored the USA[3]


(29 June 1931 – 21 December 2011) 


Career in Department of Atomic Energy

Iyengar joined the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research, Department of Atomic Energy in 1952 as a Junior Research Scientist, undertaking a wide variety of research in neutron scattering. He later got shifted to Atomic Energy Establishment (later renamed as Department of Atomic Energy) when it was formed in 1954. In 1956, Iyengar was trained in Canada working under Nobel laureate in Physics Bertram Neville Brockhouse, contributing to path-breaking research on lattice dynamics in germanium. At the DAE, he built up and headed the team of physicists and chemists that gained international recognition for their original research contributions in this field. In 1960s, he indigenously designed the PURNIMA reactor and headed the team that successfully commissioned the reactor on 18-May-1972 at BARC.

Operation Smiling Buddha

When Ramanna took over as Director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in 1972, the mantle of Directorship of the Physics Group (PG)was handed over to Iyengar. where he was appointed the director of Physics Group (PG). He was one of the key scientist in the development of India's first nuclear device. The team, under Raja Ramanna tested the device under the code name Smiling Buddha on 18-May-1974. Dr. Iyengar played a leading role in the Peaceful Nuclear Explosion at Pokharan-I, for which he was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 1975.

Career with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre

Iyengar took over as Director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in 1984. As Director, one of his first tasks was to take charge of the construction of the Dhruva reactor, the completion of which was then in question, and bring it to a successful conclusion under his leadership. Recognizing the importance of transferring newly developed technology from research institutes to industry, he introduced a Technology Transfer Cell at the BARC to assist and speed the process. He motivated basic research in fields ranging from molecular biology, to chemistry and material science. He nucleated new technologies like lasers and accelerators, which lead to the establishment of a new Centre for Advanced Technology, at Indore.

Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission of India

Iyengar was appointed Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India and Secretary to the Department of Atomic Energy in 1990. He was also appointed as Chairman of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India. Under his leadership the Department of Atomic Energy vigorously pursued the nuclear power programme with the commissioning of two new power reactors at Narora and Kakrapar, and continued with the development of new reactor systems, such as liquid-sodium based fast reactors. Equal emphasis was laid on enhanced production of heavy water, nuclear fuel and special nuclear materials. He also initiated proposals for the export of heavy-water, research reactors, hardware for nuclear applications to earn precious foreign exchange.

Cold Fusion research

Regarding Iyengars involvement in Indian cold fusion research, the Indian newspaper Daily News and Analysis wrote: "Iyengar also pioneered cold fusion experiments in the 1980s to prove the hypothesis that nuclear fusion can occur at ordinary temperatures under certain scenarios. The experiments were discontinued after Iyengar's exit from the nuclear establishment by some conservative scientists." [4]

Legacy and Fame

Iyengar has been the recipient of many high civilian awards and honours. After retirement Iyengar served in various positions such as Member of the Atomic Energy Commission, Scientific Advisor to the Government of Kerala, on the Board of the Global Technology Development Centre, President of the Indian Nuclear Society, and a Member of the Inter-governmental Indo-French Forum, besides serving on various national committees. Iyengar’s later interests focused on advances in nuclear technology for nuclear applications, issues of nuclear policy and national security, science education and the application of science in nation-building. He participated in various international meetings on non-proliferation issues. Most recently, as a founder trustee of the Agastya International Foundation, he focused on rural education and instilling creativity and scientific temperament in rural children.

Awards and honours

  • Padma Bhushan (1975)
  • Bhatnagar Award (1971)
  • Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry Award for the Physical Sciences (1981)
  • Raman Centenary Medal of the Indian Academy of Science (1988)
  • Bhabha Medal for Experimental Physics of the Indian National Science Academy (1990)
  • R. D. Birla Award of the Indian Physics Association (1992)
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Award (1993)
  • Homi Bhabha Medal (2006)

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