Satinder Kumar Sikka(1942 born at Jhang Maghina, now in Pakistan) earned his BSc (1960) from Punjab University after which he joined Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) through its Training School. He obtained PhD (1970) from Bombay University under the supervision of R Chidambaram. Between 1961 and 2002 at BARC, he worked in the fields of neutron diffraction, X-ray crystallography, and high pressure and shock wave physics. He also participated in conducting the Indian nuclear explosions of 1974 and 1998. He rose to become Distinguished Scientist and Director of Atomic and Condensed Matter Physics Group at BARC and was Scientific Secretary (Secretary grade) to Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India between 2002 and 2008. He was Homi Bhabha Chair Professor from Jan.2010 to Jan.2013.
Academic and Research Achievements: Sikka's PhD work on the phase problem in neutron diffraction using both anomalous scattering and direct methods has been cited extensively (even by some Nobel prize winners), and also figures in teaching aids commissioned by International Union of Crystallography. He was involved in India's nuclear weapon programme since 1969 and was leader of the design team for the 1998 nuclear test series. He set up diamond anvil cells for static pressure generation, gas gun for shock waves and techniques using high explosives which were unique facilities in India. First principle electron structure methods were used to compute the equation of state and opacities of materials used in nuclear devices. All these led to the development of the state of art computer codes for design, simulation and yield estimates of nuclear explosives. Some of his highly cited high pressure research works relate to alpha to omega phase transition in Ti, Zr and Hf, discovery of a unique primitive hexagonal phase in Si at 14 GPa and crystal-to-amorphous transformations under pressure. He has published 160 papers in peer reviewed journals.
Other Contributions: The research group for high pressure research nurtured by him at BARC is internationally recognized. He served as Member of the Asia Pacific Academy of Materials, Executive Committee of International Association for Advancement of Research and Technology under High Pressure (1997-2000), Editorial Board of the journal High Pressure Research (2002- ); Consultant to the Commission on High Pressure of International Union of Crystallography (2002-06); and also Chairman of National committees of INSA for IUCr and CODATA.
Awards and Honours: Dr Sikka was conferred many awards, notably the Padma Shri (1999), HK Firodia Award for Excellence in Science and Technology (1998), MRSI-ISCS Superconductivity and Materials Science Annual Prize (2001), MM Chugani Award for Excellence in Applied Physics by Indian Physics Association (2002), Homi Jehangir Bhabha Medal for Experimental Physics by INSA (2005), Homi Bhabha Lifetime Achievement Award of Indian Nuclear Society (2007), Meghnadh Saha Medal of National Academy of Sciences, Allahabad (2010) and Department of Atomic Energy Life Time Achievment Award (2011). He has also been elected Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad and Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore.