Predhiman Krishan Kaw, the man who pioneered India's nuclear fusion programme, dies at 69

Professor Predhiman Krishan Kaw, the man who pioneered India's nuclear fusion reactor research programme, passed away at the age of 69 on Sunday night in Ahmedabad.

PK Kaw. Image courtesy:

File image of PK Kaw. Image courtesy:

Kaw was the founder of the Institute for Plasma Research (IPR) in Gujarat, an institute that made India one of the seven member entities building the world's largest fusion experiment — the $14 billion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), according to The Times of India.

He founded IPR in 1986 and was the institute's director till 2012.

Kaw began building India's first Tokamak fusion reactor 'Aditya' which progressed into the Steady State Tokamak reactor.

Born on 15 January, 1948, Kaw was a child prodigy. According to this IIT Delhi webpage, "he had a brilliant academic record".

He completed his PhD from IIT Delhi in a span of two years when he was just 18 years old. He also had the distinction of being the first student to be conferred a doctoral degree by the institute.

In 1967, he joined the University of Princeton as a Post-Doctoral Fellow. It was there that he discovered the phenomenon of laser-induced anomalous heating of plasma and filamentation instability. He eventually joined the research staff of the University of Princeton in 1969.

In 1971, Kaw came back to India. When he founded IPR, he was a young scientist in his 30s.

He had written over 150 research papers and was the associate editor of the Journal of Plasma Physics (UK).

PK Kaw was awarded the Padma Shri in 1985.

Kaw had a by-pass surgery recently and he had also been suffering from Parkinson's disease. But he was a scientist right till the very last days of his life, DNA quoted Professor Amita Das — Kaw's associate of 26 years and senior professor at IPR — as saying.

"It is a huge and irrepairable loss to the whole nation at large and IPR in particular. His contributions in plasma and fusion sciences and for his tireless efforts in nurturing the Institute for Plasma Research since its inception will be remembered for long (sic)," D Channa Reddy, Dean — Research and Development, IPR, said in a statement.

Updated Date: Jun 20, 2017 09:57 AM

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