Vasant Itagi

Vasant Itagi - Obituary

Dr. Vasant Itagi passed away on May 10, 2022, from age-related health problems. Itagi was born in Dharwad, India in 1933.

After receiving his Ph.D., he joined the faculty at Aurangabad University in the mid-60’s. His research interests were in lasers and spectroscopy. He went on the serve as the head of the Physics department for two decades.

He built one of the first lasers in India - a CO2 laser - in 1969. In 1970, he spent an academic year at the Central Research Institute in Budapest where he worked on metal ion lasers. During the late 70s and early 80s, he prototyped nitrogen lasers with innovative designs that resulted in building a short-pulse high-intensity laser. This laser was used as a pump in dye lasers with different dyes.

Subsequently, Itagi developed applications for his nitrogen laser - a high-intensity system for the time - including a contactless electro-optic-Kerr-effect-based technique for ultrafast high-voltage measurement.

In the early 80s, Itagi spent a year in the US on a Fulbright scholarship. His time was shared between Dr. Michael Feld’s group at MIT and Dr. Arthur Schawlow’s group at Stanford.

Over the next decade, Itagi (and his group) worked on plasma spectroscopy applications such as space-time fluorescence analysis of laser-induced plasma generated on the surface of metals in low-pressure gas environments.

Itagi advised more than a dozen doctorate students. The state of Maharashtra presented him with a special award for his teaching contributions. He retired in 1993. He was an emeritus member of the AAPT.

He is survived by his wife, also a physicist, and a son who works at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Submitted by Dr. S. V. Itagi (Colleague) and Dr. A. R. Khan (Former Doctoral Student)