India needs to focus on solar energy, says Russian scientist

Monday, 15 January 2007, 06:00 Hrs
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CHENNAI: India needs to focus research on solar energy and cheaper photovoltaic cells that hold the key to Earth's future, according to a Russian researcher.

Russian physicist and Nobel laureate Zhores I. Alferov told a science meet here that solar energy was "the only inexhaustible source of energy".

Speaking at the Albert Einstein Annus Mirabilis Centennial Public Lectures, he said that while solar cells were expensive, the new hetero-structure technology made them efficient and capable of handling high power.

So, with concentration of light on them (using lenses or reflectors), the solar cells will soon be economically competitive with other energy sources like oil and atomic energy.

Research in this field was important for India and should be supported, he stressed at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) during a four-day meet that ended Saturday.

Alferov spoke about semi-conductor structures known now as 'hetero-structures' for which he was awarded the Physics Nobel prize in 2000.

Alferov, born in Vitebsk in Belarus, obtained his doctoral degree in physics from the A.F. loffe Physico-Technical Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has been its director since 1987.

Apart from Alferov, English scientist Anthony J. Leggett was the other Nobel laureate at the meet. Renowned Indian theoretical physicist E.C. George Sudarshan was also present.

Sudarshan, who hails from Kottayam in Kerala, "is the originator of the quantum theory of optical coherence", said IMSc senior professor R. Simon, in his introduction. "This work was chosen for the 2005 Physics Nobel prize, but not its originator."

After faculty positions at the Universities of Rochester and Syracuse, Sudarshan is director of the Center for Particle Theory at the University of Texas. He is also known for his V-A theory, which explains the nature of weak interactions and has found faster-than-light particles called tachyons.

A collection of his work was released here on the occasion.

Leggett, who obtained his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Oxford, is currently professor at John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and also at the Center for Advanced Study of Physics at the University of Illinois in US. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2003.

Leggett has demonstrated that liquid helium can become a 'super-fluid' - that is, its viscosity vanishes at low temperatures and it forms an isotope that can bond with metallic superconductors.

The IMSc in Chennai is a national institution for fundamental research in the physical and mathematical sciences. The department of atomic energy and the Tamil Nadu government support this.

Institute members work primarily in areas of theoretical physics, mathematics and theoretical computer science.

The lectures and workshops were organised jointly by the IMSc and the Delhi-based Centre for Philosophy and Foundations of Science. The visitors are on a our of India and giving lectures at centres of excellence in New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.

Source: IANS
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