The Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to Government of India pays tribute to Prof. Vasant Natarajan (December 11, 1965 – December 29, 2021). An experimental physicist, he was a professor in the Department of Physics at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

Prof. Natarajan was known for his research in Frequency Measurement, Hyperfine Measurement, Quantum Optics, Wavemeter, Laser Cooling, Spectroscopy, Electric dipole moment, Malaria & Optical Tweezers & Atom Optics. His laboratory is credited for producing first cold atoms in India.

He was one of the first winners of the Swarnajayanti fellowship and held Homi Bhabha Fellowship from 2007-2009. He also contributed to the growth of the Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana (KVPY) scheme- a National Program of Fellowship in Basic Sciences for the youngest and brightest students in India funded by Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. In 1993, he was elected for the Sigma-Xi Honor Society of USA.


Source: IISC, Bangalore

One of his first students wrote a tribute blog for Prof. Natarajan where he had described his pioneering work and various difficulties he overcame, “Once upon a time, we used to proudly say that our lab hosted the coldest bit of space in India – for no one else in the country had cold atoms then.  Just for having produced the first cold atoms in India, the system should have lauded Vasant. For these are possibly the toughest experiments in Physics in terms of requiring everything you may possibly need in experimental physics – the highest quality of performing electronics, vacuum, and optics. Remember there was no one in India even remotely aware of this field then. No one to talk to, no one really to exchange ideas with. Vasant was the ONLY person who had trapped atoms, indeed even seen them. But he had done that in MIT and Bell-labs – the best experimental labs in the world. How can you compare the support system they have in Boston and Colorado, and that we had in Bangalore those days, with our good old KR Market being our single provender of electronics and hardware – everything of which we assembled ourselves.” His work can be accessed on his lab page.

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