Rangaswamy Srinivasan

Rangaswamy Srinivasan (born February 28, 1929 in Madras, India[1]) is a physical chemist and inventor with a 30-year career at IBM Research. He has developed techniques for ablative photodecomposition and used them to contribute to the development of LASIK eye surgery.

Rangaswamy Srinivasan
Born (1929-02-28) February 28, 1929 (age 92)
Alma materUniversity of Madras, University of Southern California
Known forAblative Photodecomposition, LASIK
AwardsRuss Prize (2011)
National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2012)
Scientific career
FieldsPhysical chemistry
InstitutionsIBM Research

He received the National Medal of Technology from President Obama on February 2, 2013 for his contributions to laser eye surgery.


Srinivasan was born in India on February 28, 1929.[2] Srinivasan received both bachelor's and master's degrees in science from the University of Madras, in 1949 and 1950.[2] In 1953 he moved to the United States to attend graduate school. He earned a doctorate in physical chemistry at the University of Southern California in 1956, studying protein chemistry with chemical kineticist Sidney W. Benson.[3] He held postdoctoral positions at the California Institute of Technology in 1956, and at the University of Rochester from 1957 to 1961.[4]


Srinivasan has spent a thirty-year career, from 1961 to 1990, at IBM's T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. He joined the research staff in 1961, and was promoted to "manager of fundamental photochemical research" in 1963.[5] His research group has studied ultraviolet light and its effects on organic matter.[4]

In 1981, Srinivasan and his coworkers determined that an ultraviolet excimer laser could be used to etch designs into polymers. The technique has since been used in the computer industry to drill polymers to create computer circuit boards and ink jet printer nozzles.[6]

Srinivasan, physicist James J. Wynne and materials scientist Samuel Blum speculated that it might also be possible to use excimer lasers on living tissue. On November 27, 1981, Srinivasan experimented with the remains of his family's Thanksgiving turkey, and proved that it was possible to create precisely-etched patterns.[5][7][8] An ultraviolet excimer laser pulsed at 193 nm was able to etch living tissue precisely without causing any thermal damage to surrounding area. Srinivasan named the technique Ablative Photodecomposition (APD),[4] a type of Laser ablation.[9]

In 1983, ophthalmic surgeon Stephen Trokel approached Srinivasan about the possibility of using APD for surgery of the cornea. The collaboration of Srinivasan, Trokel, and Bodil Braren led to development of LASIK eye surgery, a technique for reshaping the cornea to correct visual issues such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. In 1995, a commercial system for laser refractive surgery was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.[7]

Srinivasan has published over 130 scientific papers and holds at least 22 US patents.[4] A patent application filed by Stephen Trokel in 1992, claiming a LASIK surgery technique as his sole invention, was declared invalid in 2000 by an International Trade Commission ruling that found that Srinivasan should have been included as a co-author.[10]

In 1990, Srinivasan formed a consulting company, UVTech Associates.[4]


External video
  2013 Russ Prize, Ohio University

In 1997, Srinivasan was awarded the American Chemical Society's Award for Creative Invention,[11] and the ACS North East Section's Esselen Medal.[12]

In 1998, Srinivasan was awarded the Max Delbruck Prize in Biological Physics by the American Physical Society.[13]

In 1999, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering.[14]

In 2002, he was inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame.[2]

In 2004, he received the Prize for Industrial Applications of Physics from the American Institute of Physics.[4]

In 2011, Srinivasan, Wynne, and Blum received the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize from Ohio University and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for their work, "a bioengineering achievement that significantly improves the human condition."[5]

In 2012, Srinivasan, Wynne, and Blum were named as recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.[15] The award was presented on February 1, 2013 by President Barack Obama, to acknowledge their work with the Excimer laser, leading to the development of LASIK Surgery.[16][17]


  1. ^ Srinivasan, R.; Braren, Bodil (September 1989). "Ultraviolet laser ablation of organic polymers". Chemical Reviews. 89 (6): 1303–1316. doi:10.1021/cr00096a003.
  2. ^ a b c "Rangaswamy Srinivasan". National Inventors Hall of Fame. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  3. ^ "Dr. Rangaswamy Srinivasan". National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Rangaswamy Srinivasan". American Institute of Physics. 2014-09-08. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Carow, Colleen (January 3, 2013). "Trio of scientists to receive 2013 Russ Prize Award is top bioengineering honor in world". Compass. Ohio University. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  6. ^ Basting, D.; Marowsky, G. (2005). Excimer laser technology. Berlin: Springer/Praxis. p. 167. ISBN 978-3-540-26667-9. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  7. ^ a b Hamm, Steve (February 1, 2013). "How Three IBM Scientists Accomplished the Breakthrough That Led to LASIK Eye Surgery". Building a smarter planet.
  8. ^ Quinn, Gene; Brachmann, Steve (November 26, 2014). "How Thanksgiving Leftovers Lead to the Invention of LASIK". IPWatchDog. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  9. ^ Fouassier, Jean-Pierre; Rabek, Jan F. (1989). Lasers in polymer science and technology : applications. Boca Raton: CRC Press. ISBN 978-0849348471. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  10. ^ D'Angelo, John (2012). Ethics in science : ethical misconduct in scientific research. Boca Raton, Florida: Taylor & Francis. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-1439840863.
  11. ^ "ACS Award for Creative Invention". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  12. ^ "Gustavus John Esselen Award". NESACS. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  13. ^ "1998 Max Delbruck Prize in Biological Physics Recipient". APS Physics. American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  14. ^ "Dr. Rangaswamy Srinivasan". National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  15. ^ "Hall of famer Srinivasan named for National Medal of Technology". The American Bazaar. 2012-12-27. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  16. ^ "IBM News Release". IBM. 2012-12-21. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  17. ^ Choudhury, Uttara (December 26, 2012). "Indian American lasik pioneer wins top inventor award from Obama". F. Retrieved 25 April 2016.