Ahmedabad, Jun 20 (PTI) Internationally recognised plasma physicist and pioneer of thermo-nuclear fusion in India, Prof P K Kaw died at his residence here.

He passed away yesterday after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 69.

Predhiman Krishan Kaw was the founder director of the Institute of Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar, and served as the Professor of Department of Science and Technology (DST) at the institute till he breathed his last.

The veteran scientist was honoured with Padma Shri in 1985 for his contribution in the field of producing energy through thermonuclear fusion.

“It is a huge and irreparable loss to the whole nation at large and IPR in particular. His contribution to plasma and fusion sciences, and his tireless efforts in nurturing the IPR since its inception will be remembered for long,” said Dean (R&D), IPR, D Chenna Reddy.

According to the acting Chief Administrative Officer of IPR, P K Atrey, Kaw died after suffering a cardiac arrest at his home.

“He was the founder director of IPR and was serving as DST-Professor at the institute since 2013. He was very much active in research and other academic work at the institute till his end,” said Atrey.

Prof Kaw is internationally knwon for his outstanding contribution to the physics of non-linear collective phenomena in plasmas with special emphasis on applications to thermonuclear fusion.

Born in January 1948, Kaw did his Ph.D in 1966 from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. He was just 18 when he achieved this academic milestone.

After completing his Ph.D, Kaw went to Princeton University, USA as a post doctoral fellow and later joined the university as an assistant professor.

From 1971-75, Kaw was back in India as associate professor and then as professor at the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad.

In this period he extended the theory of parametric instabilities to magnetised plasmas. He also made important contributions to the theory of ionospheric irregularities in the equatorial electro jet.

In early 80s, Kaw and some of his former colleagues at PRL succeeded in persuading the DST to set up a major programme of plasma physics at PRL.

He returned to India in 1982 to direct this programme.

The programme was separated from PRL in 1986 and became the DST-funded Institute for Plasma Research.

Kaw was IPR’s director between 1986 and 2012.

In 1996, IPR was taken over by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) with a considerable upscaling of the experimental efforts on thermonuclear fusion.

Under his leadership, the institute has carried out the design/fabrication of an advanced steady-state superconducting tokamak SST-1. This machine is undergoing commissioning trials now and is one of the first machine of this kind anywhere in the world.

Kaw also guided the the institute in spearheading India’s case for participation in the prestigious ITER (fusion) experiment and is now the nodal domestic agency looking after this participation.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.