Piyare Lal Jain

Published November 1, 2019

Piyare Lal Jain, professor emeritus in the Department of Physics, died Oct. 28. He was 97.

Services will be held Nov. 2 at Amigone Funeral Home, 2600 Sheridan Drive, Tonawanda. Viewing will be at 11 a.m., followed by a religious ceremony at noon and cremation at 1 p.m.

An experimental particle physicist, Jain worked in many areas of physics during his more than 50 years on the UB faculty. His earliest work involved nuclear magnetic resonance studies of liquid crystals and polymers. He then became an expert in the use of nuclear emulsions to study the properties of highly energetic sub-atomic particles, a topic that steered his research for most of the rest of his career.

Jain’s initial studies involved highly energetic cosmic rays, whose paths he recorded in emulsion stacks that were taken high into Earth’s atmosphere on balloon flights. Later, he studied the properties of a wide range of elementary particles at ever-increasing energies at high energy particle accelerators at Cornell University, Stanford University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Fermi National Laboratory and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

Jain’s research led to many important scientific results. His early studies elucidated the properties of cosmic rays interacting with heavy silver and bromine nuclei in emulsion. Subsequent studies produced important results on elastic and inelastic scattering of protons, muons, pions, kaons, deuterons, alpha particles and other light nuclei.

In the early 1980s, his work using heavy-ions of bone tissue to find more effective therapies for cancer was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Later, he was funded first by the Department of Energy and then by the National Science Foundation, primarily for studies of heavy-ion collisions in emulsion.

In widely recognized studies of hypothetical anomalous fragments (anomalons), he proved conclusively that such effects were not present in alpha-particle interactions. In later studies of relativistic heavy-ion — including silicon, gold, lead and uranium — collisions in emulsion, he found evidence of the formation of a quark-gluon plasma, as predicted by the theory of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD).

More recently, his studies of relativistic heavy-ion collisions in nuclear emulsion at CERN uncovered signals for low-mass neutral particles decaying to electron-positron pairs with very short lifetimes smaller than 10-13 seconds.

Jain published more than 175 scientific articles in refereed journals, and delivered numerous invited talks at international conferences.

A Fulbright Fellow at the University of Rajasthan in India from1965-66, he also was a fellow of the American Physical Society, and a recipient of a United University Professions (UUP) Excellence Award, and the award of the Hind Rattan (Jewel of India), the highest award bestowed on persons of Indian origin by the Government of India.

Jain held bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Punjab University and a doctorate from Michigan State University.