Sir Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose (30 November 1858 – 23 November 1937).
Bose became interested in radio following the 1894 publication of the work of British physicist Oliver Lodge, who studied electromagnetic radiation in the 1890s. Bose realized the disadvantages of studying the light-like properties of long radio waves and in follow-up research, managed to reduce the waves to the millimeter level (about 5 mm wavelength).
During a November 1894 public demonstration at the Town Hall of Kolkata, Bose ignited gunpowder and rang a bell at a distance using millimeter range wavelength microwaves. Lieutenant-Governor Sir William Mackenzie witnessed Bose’s demonstration in the Kolkata Town Hall. In an essay, Bose noted the potential for wireless communications via radio waves.
Bose submitted his first scientific paper, “On the polarization of electric rays by double-refracting crystals,” to the Asiatic Society of Bengal in May 1895. He submitted his second, “On a new electro-polariscope,” to the Royal Society of London in October 1895, and it was published by The Electrician in December 1895. The paper described Bose’s plans for a coherer, a term coined by Lodge referring to radio wave receivers, which he intended to “perfect” but never patented. The paper was well-received by The Electrician and The Englishman.
Should Professor Bose succeed in perfecting and patenting his ‘Coherer’, we may in time see the whole system of coast lighting throughout the navigable world revolutionised by a Bengali scientist working single handed in our Presidency College Laboratory.The Electrician and The Englishman, January 1896.
Bose went to London on a lecture tour in 1896 and met Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, who had been developing a radio wave wireless telegraphy system for over a year and was trying to market it to the British post service. In an interview, Bose expressed his disinterest in commercial telegraphy and suggested others use his research work. In 1899, Bose announced the development of an “iron-mercury-iron coherer with telephone detector” in a paper presented at the Royal Society, London.
Bose’s work in radio microwave optics was specifically directed toward studying the nature of the phenomenon and was not an attempt to develop radio into a communication medium. His experiments took place during this same period (from late 1894 on) when Guglielmo Marconi was making breakthroughs on a radio system specifically designed for wireless telegraphy and others were finding practical applications for radio waves, such as Russian physicist Alexander Stepanovich Popov’s radio wave-based lightning detector, also inspired by Lodge’s experiment. Although Bose’s work was not related to communication he, like Lodge and other laboratory experimenters, probably had an influence on other inventors trying to develop the radio as a communications medium. Bose was not interested in patenting his work and openly revealed the operation of his galena crystal detector in his lectures. A friend in the US persuaded him to take out a US patent on his detector but he did not actively pursue it and allowed it to lapse.”
Bose was the first to use a semiconductor junction to detect radio waves, and he invented various now-commonplace microwave components. In 1954, Pearson and Brattain gave priority to Bose for the use of a semi-conducting crystal as a detector of radio waves. In fact, further work at millimeter wavelengths was almost non-existent for the following 50 years. In 1897, Bose described to the Royal Institution in London his research was carried out in Kolkata at millimeter wavelengths. He used waveguides, horn antennas, dielectric lenses, various polarisers, and even semiconductors at frequencies as high as 60 GHz. Much of his original equipment is still in existence, especially at the Bose Institute in Kolkata. A 1.3 mm multi-beam receiver now in use on the NRAO 12 Metre Telescope, Arizona, US, incorporates concepts from his original 1897 papers.
“J.C. Bose was at least 60 years ahead of his time. In fact, he had anticipated the existence of P-type and N-type semiconductors.”Sir Nevill Mott, Nobel Laureate in 1977 for his own contributions to solid-state electronics.