August 8, 2018
I met Prof. C.N.R. Rao (b. 1934) during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad. Conferred with a Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India, in 2013, Rao Sir serves as the Head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India.
One of the world’s foremost solid state and materials chemists, C.N.R. Sir laments the narrowing of vision among young scientists. He says, “Most of them work for ‘problems of their thesis, project or research grants”. Science does not move on that; this kind of work drags organisations and produces laggards.
The future is to synthesise photosynthesis and generate energy from the sun, as plants do. Fuels like hydrogen or ethanol could be produced ultimately via solar power, as in artificial photosynthesis, so we could continue using liquid fuels with less environmental damage. Let us create a “bionic leaf” that can convert solar energy into hydrogen!