Professor Rajat Kumar Ray 


Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur


Prof. Rajat Ray passed away on 24th Nov. 2011 after a week-long illness. He was suffering from infection of the lung.

Professor Ray was born on 10th August, 1929. He grew up in a prosperous family settled in Delhi. A brilliant student of St. Stephens College and Delhi University, Rajat Ray received his Ph.D. in Experimental Solid State Physics from Purdue University in the USA. After a tenure as a Research Associate in the National Research Council, Canada, he joined the Department of Physics at IIT Kanpur as a faculty member in 1962. In those eventful formative years of IIT Kanpur, Dr. Ray participated in its growth and was instrumental in setting up the Low temperature Physics Laboratory, of which he was the Head for many years. He spent a couple of years in the MIT on leave of absence from IIT Kanpur. His research was in the area of Low temperature magnetic phenomena. He retired from IIT Kanpur in 1990. He lived in New Delhi after retirement.

An upright man, with impeccable integrity, he never hesitated to speak out against what appeared to him as unjust or improper. He was a superb conversationist who could mix subtle humour very effectively with a somewhat tangential view of events and the world around him He perfected this style into an art. His transparent personality and the air of freshness that always surrounded him remains a pleasant memory in the minds of all those who knew him. His interest in many areas of Science, Literature and History, social and political, made any discussion with him lively and educative.

Those who knew him well will remember him fondly as a brilliant physicist, an inspiring teacher and a very warm human being with a richness of heart that was hard to match.

He leaves behind his wife Amita Ray, his only daughter Ranjana, son-in-law Pratap, an IITK alumnus, his grand daughter Tannishta, members of a large joint family and innumerable friends, who will all miss him.

Pinaki Gupta-Bhaya

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   wrote on 30th November 2011
    We were the first ones to learn physics from Prof. Ray when he joined IITK in 1962. A very soft spoken person, a brilliant teacher, he ensured that we understood what he taught. A very friendly attitude towards students made physics so much easier to grasp. He would remember names of students even after several years and greet in a warm and affectionate manner whenever we ran into him in the institute. Later, when I joined as a faculty in ChE, we would occasionally discuss matters, that encompassed several fields. It was always a delight to meet him. May his soul rest in peace.

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   wrote on 3rd December 2011
    Rajat and I shared neighbouring offices in the faculty building for many years and hence he was my natural first stop in sharing many thoughts in the Department. I recall his sharp mind, fresh thoughts and clear integrity. Vijaya joins me in conveying the heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and hope they derive strength to bear the grief. --RR

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   wrote on 13th December 2011
    I very fondly recall my interactions with Professor R.K. Ray, starting with the visit to the low-temperature lab during the counselling of our batch. I remember he dipping a rubber tube in liquid nitrogen and then "breaking" it by hitting on the wall. He so clearly showed how properties of matter change with the change in temperature; of course any demonstration by Professor Ray was accompanied by a very interesting non-stop commentary with remarks that everyone connected with very easily. My second extended interaction with him was in Phy203 where he was my tutor. Again physics with lovely stories and commentary. I also note that the course Instructor was Professor Parasnis who also passed away earlier this year. Then Professor Ray taught us Solid-state physics and man I loved the course; He made solids come alive on the board. An example of the kind of stories he used to tell: While teaching superconductivity, he talked about Brian Josephson and said that during a conference Bardeen told Josephson "Are you trying to teach me my theory?". Josephson replied: No, but if you push me to the corner then Yes. And I remeber vividly the way Professor Ray told the story. Another instance of inimitable Prof. Ray story: when one of us asked about Josephson effect after he had given about three lectures on it, he said - you all do not come to the class regularly and then suddenly in one day you want to become Josephson. All you will become at this rate is a third rate physicist. While writing this, stories have started coming to my mind. In solid-state physics again, I remeber I could not understand the diamond structure and I thnk at one point he was really frustrated because he said in Bangla: Diamond structure atta atom achchhe. Man, I have never forgotten the diamond structure since then. Professor Ray was a very lively person and in his classroom it always appeared that he was enjoying what he was doing. I am sure other students who interacted with him also remeber him as clearlrly as I do. May his soul rest in peace.

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   wrote on 6th January 2012
    We all miss him but we cannot miss his memories from our heart. He always talked about possitive outlook of life and conveyed this with a unique sense of humour besides being a scholar, fabulous teacher and researcher. We share this grief with his family members and send our heart-felt condolences.May his soul rest in peace.


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