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SPIE Professional October 2007

In Memoriam: Chandra Vikram

Award-winning author and researcher studied optical logic, interferometry.

By Erin M. Schadt

Chandra S. Vikram, an expert in the fields of holography and speckle metrology, died of a heart attack on 17 August.

He received his MSc in physics from the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur in 1968, and his MTech and PhD -- both in optics -- from the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi in 1970 and 1973, respectively. After short post doctoral assignments at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, he moved to The Pennsylvania State University-University Park in 1977. In 1989 he joined the Center for Applied Optics of The University of Alabama in Huntsville where he was a research professor in optical science and engineering. Most recently he was a research professor at Fisk University (Nashville, TN).

Vikram is known for his pioneering work on correcting significant measurement errors caused by the diffraction halo in speckle metrology in the early 1980s, research with speckle interferometry in the nondestructive measurement of residual stresses, as well as breakthroughs in phase shifting interferometry, multicolor holography, and particle-field holography.

At Fisk, Vikram began research into a new area. "He embarked on a new line of research and contributed significantly to a new approach to optical logic that consumes no energy and does not limit the bandwidth of signals it can process," explains colleague H. John Caulfield of Fisk University.

Vikram had more than 145 journal publications, two books, and six book chapters to his credit. He was a fellow of both SPIE and the Optical Society of America, and a life member of the Optical Society of India.

NASA presented him with a Certificate of Recognition in 1994 for his research on multicolor holography. Three years later, he was awarded the University of Alabama in Huntsville Foundation Award for Research and Creative Achievement. Vikram received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi -- an extremely rare honor -- in 2002, and the SPIE Dennis Gabor Award in 2003. In 2004 he became the editor of a new Journal of Holography and Speckle.

"Like all great researchers, Chandra had an inimitable research style," says Caulfield. "He would readily enter any field, but his entry was in a style unique to him. I was his friend and supervisor for a decade and directed him into several new fields. Inevitably months would pass before anything reportable happened. Asked if he was really working on it, he would reply: 'yes, but I am still learning about it.' At the end of this long process, he would emerge with a deep understanding of the topic and one or more clever ideas for new advances. It was often hard to explain this to funding sponsors, who would have to be counseled that it was always worth the wait."

In 2003, SPIE featured an article on Chandra Vikram; to read the profile visit spie.org/vikram.  

DOI: 10.1117/2.4200710.15