Predhiman Kishan Kaw was internationally very well known for his works in plasma physics and nuclear fusion and hence was called the Indian Pioneer of nuclear physics. Prof P K Kaw was born on January 15 1948 in Srinagar. He was a very bright and intelligent student and his talent started shining at a very early age. He received his PhD from IIT, Delhi at a very young age of 18 years under supervision of Prof. M.S. Sodha. Also he has the honor of being the first PhD from IIT, Delhi. He had been the founding director of Institute of Plasma Research(IPR) and served as director from 1986 to 2012. After serving as director he served as DST professor at the IPR since 2013.
Yesterday on 20th of June he passed away due to a sudden cardiac arrest at his Ahmedabad residence. He was 69 years old. During his services at the IPR, his efforts helped India to become a part of Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and also became full member of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project. ITER is the world’s largest magnetic confinement plasma physics experiment to generate power with minimal input cost. It is claimed as the ultimate clean energy resource.
As per his 26 year old associate, prof Amita Das losing him is a great loss for the nation. As per prof Das, along with physics and plasma research he found great interest in philosophy and understanding consciousness. As per prof Das he had a by-pass surgery recently and also suffered from Parkinson’s, but never let his enthusiasm go down as a scientist. He always motivated young scientists.
Professor Kaw completed his postdoc from Princeton University, USA and also served as research staff and lecturer at the instate for some period of time. During his service as professor at the Physics Research Lab(PRL), India, he extended the theory of parametric instabilities to magnetised plasmas. He also made important contributions to the theory of ionospheric irregularities in the equatorial electro jet. Under his leadership, at the IPR, the institute carried out the design of an advanced steady-state super conducting tokamak SST-1. This machine is undergoing trials and is said to be one of the first machine of this kind.
Professor Kaw bagged a number of awards including the most prestigious Padma Shri award in 1985 for his contribution in production of energy through thermonuclear fusion. In 2016 he was awarded the Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar Prize of Plasma Physics for his contributions in the areas of laser-plasma interactions, strongly coupled dusty plasmas, and turbulence, nonlinear effect in magnetic fusion devices.
It is really a big loss for the nation, losing a great soul and intelligent mind like him. He will always be alive in our hearts. May his soul Rest in Peace. Thank you Prof P.K. Kaw.