The 69-year-old globally-acclaimed plasma physicist, professor PK Kaw who was the man behind India’s efforts to produce energy through thermonuclear fusion, died in Ahmedabad on Sunday, reported The Indian Express. Kaw was suffering from cardiac disease revealed the Dean (R&D) of Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar, which was founded by Kaw and is now survived by a wife and three children. “He underwent a bypass surgery a few years ago. But he was coming to work and attending all crucial meetings despite his deteriorating health. It is a huge and irreparable loss to the nation, and IPR in particular,” Reddy said.
Kaw’s efforts were appreciated by the government and he was awarded the Padma Shri award in 1985. He was the founder director of the IPR, the nodal agency that has been coordinating with other countries in building the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France by 2019. ITER is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering megaproject.
Apart from this, Kaw also played an important role in the construction of country’s first indigenously-designed machine for controlling thermonuclear fusion, Aditya tokamak. Having started hs career a post-doctoral fellow in Princeton University, USA, after finishing his PhD from IIT-Delhi, he served as associate professor and professor at the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad between 1971 and 1975.
After that, he returned to Princeton and initiated work on magnetically confined fusion plasmas. In the 1980s, Kaw along with some of his friends succeeded in persuading the Government of India to set up a major programme of plasma physics at PRL and then came back to India in 1982 to direct it. After 2012, he continued to work with the institute as DST Year of Science Professor.