Prof. C. N. R. Rao : The Prodigal Chemist of India

Prof. Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao, popularly known as C.N.R. Rao is a leading Indian scientist in the field of solid state and materials chemistry. He has been a pioneer in the field of solid state chemistry. His major area of research comprises transition metal oxides and other extended inorganic solids, inorganic-organic hybrid materials, nanomaterials and generation of hydrogen by photocatalysis. His latest works include research on the new wonder material graphene and artificial photosynthesis.


A prodigal child, Rao completed his B. Sc from Mysore University at the age of merely 17. Progressing to which, he completed his M. Sc from Banaras Hindu University at the age of 19. He earned a PhD from Purdue University at the age of 24, which in today’s timeline is a very difficult task. He was the youngest lecturer when he joined the Indian Institute of Science in 1959. After a spending considerable time at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, he returned to IISc, eventually becoming the Director from 1984 to 1994. He was Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India during 1985 to 1989 and 2005 to 2014. He also found and worked in Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research and International Centre for Materials Science.

His recent researches have been actively involved towards his contribution in the generation of hydrogen energy. Professor Rao has been working on hydrogen energy as the only energy source for the benefit of all mankind. Hydrogen storage, photochemical and electrochemical production of hydrogen, solar production of hydrogen, and non-metallic catalysis were the highlights of his work.

Awards and Honors:

To add in his honor of achievements, Rao has been awarded by the most prestigious scientific awards and honours including the Marlow MedalShanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and TechnologyHughes Medal, India Science Award, Dan David Prize, and various others. He also received Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan from Government of India. On 16 November 2013, the Government of India selected him for Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India, making him the third scientist after C.V. Raman and A. P. J. Abdul Kalam to receive the award.

Dr. A. P. J. ABDUL KALAM addressing at the function honouring Prof. C. N. R. Rao at IISc, Bangalore.
Dr. A. P. J. ABDUL KALAM addressing at the function honouring Prof. C. N. R. Rao at IISc, Bangalore.

The latest addition to his multitude of awards and achievements is the International Eni Award. Bharat Ratna Professor C.N.R. Rao has received International Eni Award 2020 for research into renewable energy sources and energy storage, also called the Energy Frontier award. This is considered to be the Nobel Prize in Energy Research. The Eni Awards 2020 will be presented on 14 October 2021, during an official ceremony held at the Quirinal Palace in Rome, attended by the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella. The award, which has been internationally recognised over years in energy and environmental research, intends to promote better use of energy sources and encourage new generations of researchers in their work. 

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