C.N.R. Rao, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research
Glimpses of Six Decades of Research in Materials Chemistry
The Materials Research Society's highest honor, the Von Hippel Award, is conferred annually to an individual in recognition of the recipient's outstanding contribution to interdisciplinary research on materials.
“for his immense interdisciplinary contributions to the development of novel functional materials, including magnetic and electronic properties of transition metal oxides, nanomaterials such as fullerenes, graphene and 2-D inorganic solids, superconductivity and colossal magnetoresistance in rare-earth cuprates and manganates"
When Rao started his independent research efforts in materials chemistry in India after returning from the United States, the subject was in its infancy. With the meager facilities available, he investigated phase transformations of TiO2 and CsCl, and also carried out defect calculations. While working on rare-earth oxides, he had to make TbO2 and PrO2 and did so by a simple solution route; this is probably an early example of chimie douce. He started working on metal oxides by building simple instruments including a thermobalance and furnaces. It was an exciting day in 1987 when we could fully characterize the first N2 superconductor (YBa2Cu3O7), by using a home-built AC suseptometer. Oxides have been of great interest to Rao because of the variety of phenomena exhibited by them. He has worked on various aspects of transition metal oxides including metal-insulator transitions, colossal magnetoresistance, multiferroics and so on. In the last two decades, he has been involved in the synthesis, characterization and properties of various nanomaterials, especially 2D nanosheets (graphene and its inorganic analogues). As part of his interest in designing new materials, he covalently cross-linked 2D sheets and other nanomaterials to derive new materials with novel properties. Rao has also been working on water splitting and reduction of CO2, besides using aliovalent anion substitution to generate novel inorganics (Zn2NF in place of ZnO). Working on a variety of interesting problems over the years has given him great happiness and satisfaction, and it has all been a labour of love.
About C.N.R. Rao
C.N.R. Rao (born 1934) is the Linus Pauling Research Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research. He is a member of The Royal Society, the National Academy of Sciences and several other science academies. Rao has received the Hughes and Royal Medals from The Royal Society, the Dan David Prize for Materials Research in 2005, and the August von Hoffmann Medal from the German Chemical Society. He was awarded the highest civilian honor (Bharat Ratna) by the President of India in 2013.