Prafulla Chandra Ray received DSc (1887) from University of Edinburgh, UK and DSc (hc) from University of Durham, UK. He remained Assistant Professor (1889), Professor of Chemistry, Presidency College, Kolkata; and Palit Professor of Chemistry, University College of Science, Kolkata.
Academic and Research Achievements: Ray cherished a desire for applying chemical knowledge to the welfare of the country through the development of chemical industries. With his undaunted efforts, as well as savings from his salaries and locally available raw materials, sprang up the Bengal Chemical and Pharmaceutical Works Ltd. The first piece of work of Ray which brought him recognition was the isolation of mercurous nitrite in 1896. He later turned his attention to the study of compounds of metallic elements with organic sulphur derivatives, particularly mercaptans and sulphides. He and his coworkers prepared a number of double sulphates of triethy1 and trimethyl sulphonium bases with metals of the copper-magnesium group. Similar double salts with phosphonium bases were also prepared. Furthermore, they prepared and characterized a number of compounds of zinc, cadmium and mercuric iodides as well as antimony halides with alkyl sulphonium iodides.
Other Contributions: The monumental work History of Hindu Chemistry bears testimony to Ray’s love for the study of history and literature, history of science in general and history of chemistry in particular. He earned the honorofic Acharya for his service and sacrifice for science, society and cause of chemical industry in India. He inspired a generation of young chemists in India, thereby building up an Indian School of Chemistry, for which he is aptly called, `the Father of Indian Chemistry’.
Awards and Honours: Professor Ray won the Hope Prize of University of Edinburgh. He was also President of the Indian Chemical Society.