Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry

Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry or R. M. Chaudhry (Urdu: رفیع محمد چوہدری‎) FPAS HI, NI, SI, Skdt (1 July 1903 – 4 December 1988), was a Pakistani nuclear physicist and a professor of particle physics at the Government College University.[1] He is widely regarded as having been the pioneer of experimental nuclear physics research in Pakistan [2] and, along with Abdus Salam and Ishrat Hussain Usmani, one of the main creators of Pakistan's nuclear weapons research program in the 1970s. Chaudhry, who served as professor of nuclear physics at Government College University, was later referred to by Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, one of his students, as "the true father of the Pakistani nuclear program".[3]

Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry
Professor Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry
Rao Rafi Muhammad

1 July 1903
Died4 December 1988 (aged 85)
Alma materAligarh Muslim University
University of Cambridge
Known forGamma and Beta decay, and his work in Atomic and Nuclear Physics in Pakistan
Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Research Programme
AwardsHilal-i-Imtiaz (2004)
Nishan-e-Imtiaz (1998)
Sitara-i-Imtiaz (1965)
Sitara-i-Khidmat (1954)
Scientific career
FieldsNuclear Physics
InstitutionsPakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC)
Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH)
Government College University (GCU)
High Tension Laboratory (HTL)
Aligarh Muslim University
University of Birmingham
University of California
Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE)
Doctoral advisorErnest Rutherford
Doctoral studentsTahir Hussain
Other notable studentsSamar Mubarakmand
Noor Muhammad Butt
Mentor of prominent Pakistani nuclear scientists Dr. Samar Mubarakmand and Dr. N. M. Butt

Early life and education

Chaudhry was born in 1903 to a middle class Rajput family(Rao) in Kahnaur, a small village in Rohtak district of Eastern Punjab.[4] He passed the university entrance exam with highest marks and earned a scholarship awarded by the Viceroy Rufus Isaacs, 1st Marquess of Reading. He used the scholarship to enroll as a student of chemical engineering at Aligarh University in 1923,[5] but after taking an engineering physics course, he decided to change his focus to thermodynamics and multivariable calculus.[5] He was successful as a physics student, earning the respect of his peers and professors.[4]

In 1927, Chaudhry took his BSc in Experimental physics, followed by his 1929 MSc in physics with First Class Honours.[4] The same year, Chaudhry gained attention from Hamidullah Khan, the Nawab of Bhopal of princely state of Bhopal, who awarded him a science scholarship for higher studies.[4] Under that scholarship, Chaudhry travelled to United Kingdom to study for his doctoral degree. Chaudhry joined the Cavendish Laboratory of the University of Cambridge. At Cambridge, Chaudhry studied Calculus of mathematical Integrals, and learned Tensor calculus, quantum physics, and general relativity under Nobel laureate in Chemistry Ernest Rutherford.[5] At Cavendish, he studied with Mark Oliphant, who particularly influenced him to study nuclear physics. Chaudhry and Oliphant carried out research in artificial disintegration of the atomic nucleus and positive ions. In 1933, Chaudhry earned his D.Phil in Nuclear physics under Ernest Rutherford. He then returned to the British India.[4]


At age 30, Chaudhry moved to Lahore and took an academic professorship in physics at the Lahore Islamia College.[4] In 1935, he became Chairman of Department of Physics there, remaining in that position until 1938. In 1938, Chaudhry moved back to Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) to teach physics, again becoming head of his department.[4] In 1944, Chaudhry was contacted by Mark Oliphant, who offered him an opportunity to return to the Cavendish Laboratory. In response, Chaudhry moved to United Kingdom, where he joined Oxford University's Nuffield College and was appointed a Nuffield Fellow.[4] Along with Oliphant and Homi J. Bhabha, Chaudhry created a group of physicists that did research in theories of Gamma and Beta decay, as well as researching the neutrino—postulated by Wolfgang Pauli in 1930—Compton scattering, and the behaviour of slow neutrons during the atomic bombardment process. On the recommendation of Oliphant, Chaudhry joined Atomic Energy Research Establishment to continue research in nuclear physics. There, he established a laboratory to conduct research in nuclear power plants. He applied his research work to the behaviour of slow neutrons in research nuclear reactors and set about identifying the heavier particles emitted by alpha decay and alpha decay's extension to the Cluster decay.

Return to India

In 1948, months after the independence of Pakistan, while in Great Britain, he was contacted by Indian Premier Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru offered him a senior position at the Physics Laboratory of India.[4] Chaudhry consulted mentor Mark Oliphant about the offer, and Oliphant wrote letters to Founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Governor-General. The letter encouraged Jinnah to engage his country in research in nuclear technology, particularly nuclear physics.[4] According to Oliphant, no other Muslim Scientist was available in the South Asia except Dr. Chaudhary who could prove useful for the newly born country in the field of Nuclear Technology. However, Nehru came to know of this development, and personally offered him a position of "Deputy Directorship" of Physics Laboratory of India.[4]

While Chaudhry was considering the offers, Jinnah sent him a letter where Jinnah had personally requested him to come to Pakistan, and join Government College University. Despite a personal phone call from Nehru urging him to come to India, Chaudhry chose the Pakistani position. In 1948, Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry migrated to Pakistan and joined Government College University as head of the Physics Department and a professor of nuclear physics.

Moving to Pakistan

Following his settlement in Pakistan, the Government of Pakistan asked him to engage research in physics at the Government College University. In 1952, Chaudhry established the "High Tension Laboratory" (now "Centre for Advanced Studies in Physics") as an offshoot of the Physics Department at Government College.[6] Chaudhry was an instrumental figure in the installation of the 1.2 MeV Cockcroft-Walton accelerator in the High Tension Laboratory (HTL) in 1954 for carrying out basic research in atomic and nuclear physics.[7] Chaudhry led projects that investigated fundamental problems of physics concerning gaseous diffusion, ion and electron impact phenomena, nuclear physics, radioactivity, and cosmic rays.[7] The research carried out at the laboratory resulted in research publications in Nature and it was visited by the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1958.[7] At HTL, Chaudhry influenced many physicists who studied under him, such as N. M. Butt and Samar Mubarakmand, who became the senior scientists in Pakistan's indigenous nuclear development. After retirement from Government College, Lahore in 1958 he continued as Director of High Tension Laboratory until 1965.

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission

Dr. Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry
Dr. Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry with English physicist, Thomas Allibone, Naeem Syed (in middle) and his other students in 1964, Government College, Lahore

In 1960, Chaudhry joined the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, where he engaged nuclear technology research. He was the first director of the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH), and was instrumental in the installation of nuclear particle accelerator there. Chaudhry published 42 research papers while at PINSTECH, and due to the sensitivity of the work, the papers were highly classified. Chaudhry was an administrative and influential figure in the establishment of PARR-I reactor as well, as being part of Abdus Salam's team that supervised the first reactor criticality at PINSTECH. In 1967, Rafi supervised the team of scientists at PINSTECH that successfully produced the first batch of radioisotopes.

1971 war and atomic bomb project

In 1968, Chaudhry went to United States with a fellowship awarded by University of California at Berkeley. There, he was joined by Hafeez Qureshi, a mechanical engineer who built weapons in the 1970s. In 1969, Chaudhry moved to the University of Chicago where he did his research at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). In 1970, Chaudhry and Qureshi visited the National Museum of the United States Air Force where they saw the actual design of Fat Man – an implosion device built during the World War II.

In 1971, after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Chaudhry returned to Pakistan and joined Government College University. In January 1972, Chaudhry represented the HTL's delegation at the Multan Meeting, convened by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. During the meeting, Chaudhry spoke, as he said: I was perhaps the only one among the scientists who had seen an actual atom bomb. Chaudhry was immediately posted at PINSTECH institute, where he was made director of Radiation Physics Division (RPD). Chaudhry was among one of the senior scientists that built the first nuclear pile PARR-II reactor at Pinstech. Under Chaudhry, the RPD scientists engaged in research in radiation physics.

Post career

In 1973, Rafi moved back to High Tension Laboratory at GCU Lahore. In 1975, he joined the Centre for Solid State Physics at the Punjab University and continued to work there as an honorary Professor; he was made Professor Emeritus in 1977. Chaudhry peacefully died at the age of 85 in Lahore.

Recognition and honours

Chaudhry was an influential figure at the Government College University and his work in PAEC and PINSTECH has been far reaching. In 1998, on personal recommendation of Noor Muhammad Butt, the Government of Pakistan awarded him Nishan-e-Imtiaz – the first high civil award. In 2004, the "High Tension Laboratory (HTL)" was renamed as "Rafi Chaudhry High Tension Laboratory" by the then-President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharaff[8] in the honour of Chaudhry. Due to his work, scientists at PINSTECH named him the "Father of the Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme".

Family of physicists

Dr Rafi had nine children, all of whom became physicists. The most distinguished ones are Dr. Anwar Chaudhri, currently working in Germany, and Dr. Munawar Chaudhri, working at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, UK.


Institutes named after Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry

  • Rafi Chaudhry High Tension Laboratory, Government College University


  1. ^ GCU, Government College University, Lahore (4 September 2009). "Dr. Rafi Muhammad Chaudhri Chair in Physics". Chief Librarian GC University Library, Lahore. GC University. Retrieved 2009. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ Haq, Prof. M. Ikramul (17 January 2004). "Remembering Dr Rafi Chaudhry". Dawn newspaper. Retrieved 2009. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ A.Q. Khan and Samar Mubarakmand – Krepon – Arms Control Wonk
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k NPT, Nazaria-i-Pakistan Trust (d). "Dr. Rafi Mohammad Chaudhary [1903–1988]". Nazaria-i-Pakistan Trust. Nazaria-i-Pakistan Publications. Archived from the original on 13 January 2010. Retrieved 2011. Check date values in: |accessdate=, |date= (help)
  5. ^ a b c Hameed A. Khan (2006). "Physics in Developing Countries – Past, Present & Future" (PDF).
  6. ^ Ashok Kapur, "1953–59: The Origins and Early History of Pakistani Nuclear Activities," Pakistan's Nuclear Development, (New York: Croom Helm, 1987), p. 36.
  7. ^ a b c GCU, Government College University. "Center For Advance Studies in Physics (CASP)". Government College University. Government College University press. Retrieved 2009. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  8. ^ http://www.dawn.com/2004/01/17/letted.htm#6
Anwar Ali (physicist)

Anwar Ali, born: 1943 in Hoshiarpur now in Indian Punjab, British Punjab State, British Indian Empire, (Ph.D, HI, PP), is a Pakistani nuclear physicist who served as the Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) from 2006 till 2009.

Anwar Ali is widely known for his role in the Nuclear deterrent programme, where he was the pioneering member of Nuclear Physics Division (NPD). Throughout his career, Ali is known to worked with both well-known Pakistani nuclear scientists Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan and Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan in nuclear weapons programme throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson, HFRSE LLD (30 August 1871 – 19 October 1937), was a New Zealand-born British physicist who came to be known as the father of nuclear physics. Encyclopædia Britannica considers him to be the greatest experimentalist since Michael Faraday (1791–1867).In early work, Rutherford discovered the concept of radioactive half-life, the radioactive element radon, and differentiated and named alpha and beta radiation. This work was performed at McGill University in Canada. It is the basis for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry he was awarded in 1908 "for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances", for which he was the first Canadian and Oceanian Nobel laureate.

Rutherford moved in 1907 to the Victoria University of Manchester (today University of Manchester) in the UK, where he and Thomas Royds proved that alpha radiation is helium nuclei. Rutherford performed his most famous work after he became a Nobel laureate. In 1911, although he could not prove that it was positive or negative,

he theorized that atoms have their charge concentrated in a very small nucleus,

and thereby pioneered the Rutherford model of the atom, through his discovery and interpretation of Rutherford scattering by the gold foil experiment of Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden. He conducted research that led to the first "splitting" of the atom in 1917 in a nuclear reaction between nitrogen and alpha particles, in which he also discovered (and named) the proton.Rutherford became Director of the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge in 1919. Under his leadership the neutron was discovered by James Chadwick in 1932 and in the same year the first experiment to split the nucleus in a fully controlled manner was performed by students working under his direction, John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton. After his death in 1937, he was honoured by being interred with the greatest scientists of the United Kingdom, near Sir Isaac Newton's tomb in Westminster Abbey. The chemical element rutherfordium (element 104) was named after him in 1997.


Fayyazuddin or Fayyaz Uddin, HI (Urdu: فياض الدين) (born 10 November 1930), is a Pakistani theoretical physicist and an Emeritus Professor of Theoretical and Mathematical Physics at National Centre for Physics and Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. He is a senior scientist at the National Center for Physics where his research is engaged to the fields of quantum mechanics, particle physics, and meson physics. He is a brother of physicist Riazuddin and the student of Abdus Salam. Along with Riazuddin, he has published numerous physics papers and has co-authored Quantum Mechanics by Fayyazuddin and Riazuddin which was published in 2000.

Ghulam Dastagir Alam

Ghulam Dastagir Alam Qasmi (Urdu: غلام دستگیر عالم قاسمی ; popularly known as G.D. Alam; HI), was a Pakistani theoretical physicist and professor of mathematics at the Quaid-e-Azam University. Alam is best known for conceiving and embarking the research on gas centrifuge project during the timeline of Pakistan's integrated atomic bomb project in the 1970s, and also conceived the research on Gauge theory and Gamma ray bursts throughout his career.

After the atomic bomb project, Alam joined the Department of Mathematics at the Quaid-e-Azam University as well as serving as visiting faculty at the Institute of Physics, and co-authored papers on variation calculus and fission isomer. He was one of the notable theoretical physicist in PAEC and Qau, and at one point, his fellow theorist, Munir Ahmad Khan, called Allam, as "the problem solving brain of the PAEC."

Government College University (Lahore)

The Government College University (colloquially known as GCU or GC University) is a public university located in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan.

Liaquat Ali Khan

Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan (Næʍābzādāh Liāqat Alī Khān listen ,Urdu: لِیاقت علی خان‬‎ ; born October 1895 – 16 October 1951), widely known as Quaid-e-Millat (Leader of the Nation) and Shaheed-e-Millat (Urdu: شہِیدِ مِلّت‬‎ Martyr of the Nation), was one of the leading founding fathers of Pakistan, statesman, lawyer, and political theorist who became and served as the first Prime Minister of Pakistan; in addition, he also held cabinet portfolio as the first foreign, defence, and the frontier regions minister from 1947 until his assassination in 1951. Prior to his assassination, Khan briefly tenured as the first finance minister in the interim government led by its Governor General Mountbatten.He was born into an influential aristocratic Muslim family in Karnal, Eastern Punjab on 1 October 1895. Ali Khan was educated at the Aligarh Muslim University in India, and then at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Well-educated, he was a democratic political theorist who promoted parliamentarism in India. After first being invited by the Congress Party, he opted for the Muslim League led by influential Mohammad Ali Jinnah who was advocating the eradication of the injustices and ill-treatment meted out to Indian Muslims by the British government. He pursued his role in the independence movements of India and Pakistan, while serving as the first Finance Minister in the interim government of British Indian Empire, prior to the independence and partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. Ali Khan assisted Jinnah in campaigning for the creation of a separate state for Indian Muslims.Ali Khan's credentials secured him the appointment of Pakistan's first Prime Minister, Ali Khan's foreign policy sided with the United States and the West, though his foreign policy was determined to be a part of the Non Aligned Movement. Facing internal political unrest, his government survived a coup hatched by the leftists and communists. Nonetheless, his influence grew further after Jinnah's death, and he was responsible for promulgating the Objectives Resolution. In 1951, at a political rally in Rawalpindi, Ali Khan was assassinated by a hired assassin, Said Babrak.

List of Pakistani scientists

Abdus Salam, theoretical physicist (Nobel Laureate 1979)

Abdul Qadeer Khan, metallurgical engineer

Rameez Ahmad, Nanotechnologist

Asad A. Abidi, electrical engineer

Haroon Ahmed, electrical engineer

Ishfaq Ahmad, nuclear physicist

Nazir Ahmed, nuclear physicist

M. A. B. Beg, theoretical particle physicist

Shahid Hussain Bokhari, computer systems engineer

Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry, nuclear physicist

Ahmad Hasan Dani, archaeologist

Peter Finke, particle physicist

Fayyazuddin, theoretical physicist

Pervez Hoodbhoy, nuclear physicist

Ashiq Hussain, neuroscientist

Faheem Hussain, theoretical physicist

Syed Tajammul Hussain, chemist and nano-technologist

Tasneem Zehra Hussain String theorist

Mujahid Kamran, theoretical physicist

Munir Ahmad Khan, nuclear engineer

Javaid Laghari, electrical engineer

Abdul Majid (physicist), rocket scientist and engineer

Samar Mubarak Mand, nuclear physicist

Nergis Mavalvala, astrophysicist

Qasim Mehdi, molecular biologist

Salim Mehmud, nuclear scientist

Asad Naqvi, mathematical physicist

Ansar Pervaiz, nuclear scientist

Atta ur Rahman, organic chemist

Abdul Razaque, computer scientist and engineer

Riaz-ud-Din, theoretical physicist

Abdullah Sadiq, nuclear physicist

Umar Saif, computer scientist

Tasneem M. Shah, theoretical physicist

Irfan Siddiqi, physicist in quantum measurement & nano-science

Kushnood Ahmed Siddiqui, scientist

Raziuddin Siddiqui, astrophysicist

Salim-uz-Zaman Siddiqui, chemist

Ishrat Hussain Usmani, nuclear physicist

Muhammad Suhail Zubairy, physicist in quantum optics

Muhammad Yar Khuhawar, chemist

Mujaddid Ahmed Ijaz

Mujaddid Ahmed Ijaz, Ph.D. (Urdu: مجدد احمد اعجا ز‬; June 12, 1937— July 9, 1992), was a Pakistani-American experimental physicist noted for his role in discovering new isotopes that expanded the neutron-deficient side of the atomic chart. Some of the isotopes he discovered enabled significant advances in medical research, particularly in the treatment of cancer, and further advanced the experimental understanding of nuclear structures. Ijaz conducted his research work at Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL). He and his ORNL colleagues published more than 60 papers in physics journals announcing isotope discoveries and other results of their accelerator experiments from 1968 until 1983.Ijaz participated in the U.S. Atoms for Peace initiative during the 1970s. The program provided a number of third-world countries, including Pakistan, with civilian nuclear reactor technology to develop energy for peaceful purposes. As a tenured professor of Physics at Virginia Tech, he acted as thesis adviser to graduate students from around the world in experimental physics disciplines. Ijaz made extensive trips abroad during his career, including sabbaticals as a visiting professor at Saudi Arabia's King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. in the early 1980s and as a visiting faculty member at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy in 1985. He retired Professor Emeritus of Physics from Virginia Tech in December 1991 after a 27-year career in teaching and research. Ijaz and his wife emigrated to the United States and settled in Virginia, where they had five children. He died in 1992 after a battle with cancer.

Noor Muhammad Butt

Noor Muhammad Butt (Urdu: ڈاکٹر این ایم بٹ); b. 3 June 1936); SI, FPAS, best known as "Dr. N. M. Butt", is a Pakistani nuclear physicist and the chairman and professor of Nanotechnology at Preston Institute of Nano Science and Technology. He earned international prestige for his edge-leading research in neutron diffraction, and made important contributions to Mössbauer spectroscopy.

Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology

The Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (also known as PINSTECH), is a multiprogram science and technology national research institute managed for the Ministry of Science and Technology (Pakistan) by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC).Located in Nilore, it maintains a broad portfolio in providing post-graduate and post-doctoral research opportunities in supercomputing, Renewable energy, physical, philosophical, materials, environmental and mathematical sciences.Researchers and scholars are invited from universities throughout Pakistan.


Project-706, also known as Project-726 was a codename of a project to develop Pakistan's first atomic bomb using uranium. At the same time, Pakistani nuclear technology scientists and engineers gained expertise in the use of reactor-grade plutonium and successfully produced weapons grade plutonium by the early 1980s.

It was a major scientific effort of Pakistan. Project-706 refers specifically to the period from 1974–1983 when it was under the control of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and later on under the military administration of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. The project's roots lay in scientists' fears since 1967 that India was also developing nuclear weapons of its own. Developing nuclear technology for Pakistan was a main goal and of Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who initiated the scientific research in 1972.Before the launching of Project-706 in 1974, the initial scientific research, starting from 1972, was directed and organized by renowned Pakistani scientist Abdus Salam. From 1974, the research was led by engineers Munir Ahmad Khan of PAEC and Abdul Qadeer Khan of KRL. Time magazine has called Project-706 Pakistan's equivalent of the United States Manhattan Project. The project initially cost US$450 million (raised by both Libya and Saudi Arabia) which was approved by Bhutto in 1972.Project-706 led to the creation of multiple production and research sites that operated in extreme secrecy and ambiguity. Apart from research and development the project was also charged with gathering intelligence on Indian nuclear efforts. The Project was disbanded when the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) carried out the first cold test of a miniature nuclear device on 11 March 1983. Scientists and military officers who participated in the Project were given higher promotion in their respective services, and conferred with high civil decorations by the Government of Pakistan.

Shaukat Hameed Khan

Shaukat Hameed Khan (Born: 4 September 1941; Urdu: ڈاکٹر شوکت حمید خان), (PP, D.Phil, FPAS), is a Pakistani nuclear physicist. He previously had served as the rector of Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology (GIKI). Khan has been associated with GIKI since its inception and served as a member of the Board of Governors till early 2013. He is a Fellow of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences. Khan previously worked for the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), where he retired as Chief Science Officer (CSO) in 2005.

Khan has made numerous contribution to the field of Laser physics, and is an author of two books, which are heavily emphasized to the field of Laser sciences. Khan has also made important research and contribution in the fields of laser produced plasmas; Ultrafast High Voltage Switching; Spectroscopy, laser isotope separation, and precision measurement with lasers.

Tahir Hussain (physicist)

Not to be confused with director and actor Tahir Hussain.Tahir Hussain (1923–2010) was a Pakistani nuclear physicist and an emeritus professor of nuclear physics at the Government College University whose research was engaged in Long-lived fission product and Electrostatic nuclear accelerators. As an eminent educator and scientist, he has mentored noted Pakistani physicists at the Government College University .

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