Obama names Indian-American for prestigious award

Obama awardWASHINGTON: Indian-American Rangaswamy Srinivasan, a renowned inventor at IBM, has been nominated by the US President Barack Obama for the prestigious National Medal of Technology for Innovation.

Along with Srinivasan, Obama named 12 eminent researchers as recipients of the National Medal of Science and 10 extraordinary inventors as recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honors bestowed by the United States Government upon scientists, engineers, and inventors.

The recipients will receive their awards at a White House ceremony in early 2013.

In 1981, Srinivasan discovered that an ultraviolet excimer laser could etch living tissue in a precise manner with no thermal damage to the surrounding area. He named the phenomenon Ablative Photo-decomposition (APD).

“I am proud to honor these inspiring American innovators” Obama said.

“They represent the ingenuity and imagination that has long made this Nation great and they remind us of the enormous impact a few good ideas can have when these creative qualities are unleashed in an entrepreneurial environment,” the US president said.

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created by statute in 1980 and is administered for the White House by the US Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office.

The award recognizes those who have made lasting contributions to America’s competitiveness and quality of life and helped strengthen the Nation’s technological workforce.

The National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959 and is administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation.

Awarded annually, the Medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering.

Inducted into the US “Inventor Hall of Fame” in 2002, Srinivasan has spent 30 years at IBM’s T J Watson Research Center.

Having been granted 21 US patents, he received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science from the University of Madras, in 1949 and 1950.

He earned doctorate in physical chemistry at the University of Southern California in 1956.

According to his profile on the Hall of Fame website, Srinivasan and his co-inventors ran tests using the excimer laser and a conventional, green laser to etch organic matter.

They discovered that while the green laser produced rough incisions, damaged by charring from the heat, the excimer laser produced clean, neat incisions.

In 1983, Srinivasan collaborated with an ophthalmic surgeon to develop APD to etch the cornea.

It resulted in a procedure to correct vision known today as LASIK surgery. Since the introduction of LASIK, millions of people have taken advantage of this procedure that reduces dependency on corrective lenses. -PTI

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