1895: History is made in Calcutta, as Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose becomes the first scientist in the world to generate the millimetre wave in a city laboratory.
2006: Calcutta University signs a memorandum of understanding with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to set up a centre, the first of its kind in India, to develop millimetre wave devices.
Some 111 years after Bose took a giant step for science with the millimetre wave, the city is set to take a significant step in the same direction, and on a giant scale.
The millimetre wave — to be developed in a centre off the EM Bypass — has greater bandwidth, larger communication capacity and smaller component size. So, the centre for millimetre wave semi-conductor devices and systems will contribute to defence research and development of low-cost satellite communication, land-based communication, mobile telephony, television and data communication, missile guidance system and construction of civilian radars.
“The success of the centre will help the country save on foreign exchange,” said Asis Kumar Banerjee, vice-chancellor, Calcutta University. “Millimetre wave devices are not developed in the country now. India’s entire requirement is imported from the advanced countries.”
A diode — a millimetre wave device — costs Rs 40,000 if it is imported from the US and Rs 30,000 if procured from Russia. “Once our centre starts functioning, the price of a diode will come down to as low as Rs 1,000,” pointed out S.K. Roy, senior teacher in the university’s radio physics department and head of the research group working on millimetre wave.
In response to the DRDO’s request for a plot in a pollution-free area to set up the centre for millimetre wave semiconductor devices and systems, the state government has allotted 3.72 acres near Peerless Hospital. DRDO will provide Rs 49.5 crore to construct the building, purchase equipment and meet the running expenses for the first three years.
Till the building is ready, the centre will function from the university’s Centre for Advanced Studies in Radio Physics and Electronics, on the Rajabazar Science College campus.
A team of scientists in the radio physics department has been working on designing millimetre wave devices.
“DRDO scientists came to know about our research from our website and contacted us with a joint-venture proposal,” disclosed Roy.