Noor Muhammad Butt

Noor Muhammad Butt
Noor Muhammad Butt
Born June 3, 1936 (1936-06-03) (age 75)
Sialkot, British Punjab province, Present-day Pakistan
Residence Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory
Citizenship Pakistan
Nationality Pakistani
Fields Nuclear Physics
Institutions Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC)
United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)
Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE)
Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH)
International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP)
European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
R1 RIT nuclear reactor (R1-RIT NR)
Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF)
National Commission on Nano-Science and Technology (NCNST)
Alma mater University of Punjab, Pakistan
University of Birmingham UK
Doctoral advisor Dr. Philip Burton Moon
Other academic advisors Dr. Rudolf Peierls and
Dr. Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry
Known for Solid state nuclear track detector
Mossbauer Spectroscopy
Mossbauer Effect
Pakistan's nuclear program
Influences Dr. Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry
Notable awards Sitara-i-Imtiaz(1992)
Khwarizmi International Award (1995)
ICTP Award Solid State Physics (1979)
ICTP Award in Nuclear Physics (1970)

Noor Muhammad Butt (D.Sc., Ph.D., SI, FPAS), (Urdu: ڈاکٹر این ایم بٹ or ڈاکٹر نور بٹ), (born 3 June, 1936), best known as "Dr. N. M. Butt", is a Pakistani nuclear physicist and an International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ITCP) laureate who received the ICTP Prize in 1970 and in 1979, in the honor of Dr. Abdus Salam in the field of nuclear and solid state physics. A nuclear weapon expert by profession, Butt served as the chairman of the Pakistan Science foundation from 2005 to 2008, and is currently serving as the Chairman of the National Commission on Nano-Science and Technology (NCNST) which he was appointed to in 2003 by the President of Pakistan. Butt is amongst one of very few in Pakistan who attained Sc.D. in physics.[1]

He is a recipient of the third highest civil award, the Sitara-i-Imtiaz, which he was awarded by then-Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, in 1992. Butt is also a representative in Pakistans Council for Meetings of Nobel Laureates, which he was elected to in 2003.



Noor Muhammad Butt was born in Sialkot, British Punjab, in 1936. Having completed his High-school from Sialkot, he completed his matriculation from Murray College, gaining a pre-science diploma from Murray College in 1950. In 1951, he attended Punjab University, majoring in applied physics and had received his B.Sc in Applied Physics from Punjab University in 1955.[2]

The same year, he was accepted at the Government College University to do his Master's degree in physics. In 1957, he completed his Master of Science(M.Sc.) with experimental specialization in the Nuclear physics under the renowned nuclear physicist Professor Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry, the Head of the Department of Physics at the Government College at that time. It was under Chaudhry's supervision that Butt studied nuclear physics and supervised Butts' master degree's thesis in experimental nuclear physics using the 1.2 MeV Cockcrof-Walton Nuclear Accelerator installed at the College.[3] His master degree's thesis was written on "The nuclear reactions when the protons from this accelerator strike the nuclear target of lithium produce a nuclear reaction, breaking the atomic nucleus of lithium".[4] After his master's degree, Butt joined Government College University as a lecturer in physics. He stayed there till 1960. In 1961, he won a Commonwealth Scholarship and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Scholarship to pursue his doctoral studies in Europe. On his mentors' advice, Butt travelled to the United Kingdom where he attended the University of Birmingham.

During his studies, Butt learned the course on the Kinetic theory of solids from Prof. Rudolf Peierls, a leading member and senior scientist who participated in the Manhattan Project and who was till working as the Head of the implosion device being developed under this project in early 1940’s. Thus, at Birmingham University during his studies for Ph.D., Butt had studied and taught nuclear physics under three world known nuclear professors whose names form part of the nuclear history of the world.[who?] Later, Butt had a rich and full interaction with a large number of nuclear and material scientists of over 25 countries during his lectures and seminars at the laboratories of these countries of the East and the West.

In 1967, he received his Doctor of Science(Sc.D.) in nuclear physics under the supervision of Dr. Philip Burton Moon. He joined the "Department of Nuclear Physics", Birmingham University, where he earned the degree of Doctor of Philosophy(D.Phil.), thereafter. In 1968, he became a distinguished professor of nuclear physics at the University of Birmingham where he had continued his research in Fission product. In 1970, Dr. Abdus Salam had met with Butt where Salam had advised him to carry out his research at ICTP in Trieste, Italy. Butt followed Salam's advise and joined ICTP as a "Senior Associate" (SA). During his stay at ICTP, he began his studies and research in the field of Solid-state physics which led him to win the "Associate ICTP Award in Solid-State Physics". In 1979, Butt was also conferred with an "ICTP Award in Nuclear Physics" in the honour of Dr. Abdus Salam.

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission

Butt joined the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission(PAEC) in 1961 as a "Principle Scientific Officer" (PSO). While in Europe in 1974, Butt had learned that India had secretly tested its miniature nuclear device in the Thar Desert. He at first, had approached Pakistani government respresentatives offering to help with their nuclear weapons research programme, however, he did not receive any particular response from the government officials. In January 1975, Abdus Salam personally asked Butt to report to PAEC chairman Munir Ahmad Khan who was heading Pakistan's nuclear weapon program. He along with Dr. Riazuddin and Dr. Masud Ahmad came back to Pakistan where he attended a meeting with Abdus Salam in PAEC Headquarters. As the work on nuclear weapon design was initiated, Butt was given a transfer to the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology(PINSTECH) where, with the support of Abdus Salam, he was appointed as a director-general of the Nuclear Physics Division (NPD). Butt worked closely with Dr. Naeem Ahmad Khan in the development of the fissionable device throughout the 1970s. He was the first technical director at the "New Labs" where he was the head of the team of scientists discovering the fissionable isotopes of 93Pu(Plutonium). At New Labs, Butt began his research in the Mössbauer effect and spectroscopy where, using the Mössbauer spectroscopy and Mössbauer effect applications, Butt's team had solved nuclear emission problems, and had discovered an effective technique to deal with Gamma ray radiation in a nuclear device effecting environmental isotopes around the nuclear test site.

In 1983, Butt was a part of teams of scientists that eye-witnessed the cold test of a nuclear device near the Kirana Hills. In 1984, he was promoted and became an "Associate Director (AD)" of PINSTECH, and was responsible for the research undertaken in the institute. In 1991, as Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad became a chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, Butt was appointed and became director (or Deputy Director-General) of the PINSTECH institute, with the full support of Ishfaq Ahmad. In 1995, Butt was elected and became a President of Pakistan Nuclear Society (PNS). In 1996, Ishfaq Ahmad had promoted him as Director-general of the institute. The same year, when the Pakistani Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence(ISI) learnt that India was soon going to test its device, the Government of Pakistan ordered him to place and prepare the devices to be tested in the nuclear test sites. However, the decision was taken back as India had postponed its nuclear device tests.

Butt was part of a team of scientists that visited European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) along with -PAEC Chairman Ishfaq Ahmad in 1997, where he had led the experiments by Pakistani physicists. It was by his efforts that in 1997 the Atomic Energy Agency reached an agreement with CERN to contribute to the construction of eight magnet supports for the Compact Muon Solenoid(CMS) detector, worth one million Swiss francs. PAEC was a financer of the CMS detector as well as providing its scientists and engineers to lead the construction of the detector. From 1970-1990s, Butt had closely worked with Ishfaq Ahmad in the field of nuclear physics where they produced numerous physics articles. He also helped established the first science journal in PINSTECH. His research repeatedly published in "The Nucleus (Journal)" published by the PINSTECH.

In 1998, he was promoted as a "Chief Scientist (CS)" at PINSTECH. In May 1998, when India tested its fission devices in Pokhran, the Pakistani government gave the scientists a green signal to test the nuclear weapon. In May 28, 1998, Butt was among one of the scientists that eye-witnessed the successful Chagai-I tests of six nuclear devices in Ras Koh Hills.

As a Chief Scientist (CS) at PAEC, Butt took retirement from the PAEC in late 1998. In 2000,t he PAEC had made him "Scientist of Emeritus" (SE) in PINSTECH Institute to which he is still attached. The same year, he was elected President of Pakistan Physical Society. On October 2003, he was appointed as National Commission on Nano-Science and Technology (NCNST). In 2005 he was appointed Chairman of the Pakistan Science Foundation.[5] Butt is an elected fellow of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences and Islamic Academy of Sciences to which he was last elected in 1993. Since his retirement, he has participated in over 125 national and international conferences and presented invited papers in many of them. He has contributed articles to Newspapers, and to contributed Radio and TV programmes for propagation Science and Technology from time to time.[6]

Awards and honors

Fellowships and memberships

  • Life Member, Pakistan Physical Society (2000)
  • Fellow of the Pakistan Institute of Physics (2000)
  • Associate Member, Institute of Physics of London (2000–2001)
  • Member American Physical Society, New York (2000)
  • An elected President of ICTP-Chapter in Pakistan (2000)
  • A Fellow of the Islamic Academy of Sciences (1993)
  • An elected Fellow and Life Member, Pakistan Nuclear Society (1995–1997)



  • Waves and Oscillations, Text Book for B.Sc., Punjab Text Book Board, Lahore, 1973
  • Co-edited: "Proc. Int. Seminar on Solid State Physics", PINSTECH, Islamabad (1974) 617-pp.
  • Co-author, "CTBT & Its Implications", published by Pakistan Nuclear Society, Islamabad (1998) 156-pp.

His research is uncluded in these books:

  • X-Ray Diffractometry, by A.W. Arnt, and B.T.M. Willis, Cambridge Univ. Press (1966). pp 222–223
  • Thermal Vibrations in Crystallography, B.T.M. Willis and A.W. Pryor, Cambridge Univ. Press (1975). pp162–165 and 241-242
  • Dynamical Properties of Solids, Vol.5 Ed. G.K. Horton and A.A. Maradudin, North Holland Published Co., Holland 1984.
  • Thermophysical Properties of Materials by Goran Grimvall, North Holland Publishing Co., Amsterdam, 1986.

Published Research papers

  • The detection of the inelastic sacttering of gamma-rays at crystal diffraction maxima using the Mossbauer Effect. [cited in over 100 papers over 30 years (1963–93)] D.A.O'Connor and N. M. Butt. Phys. Lett., 7, 233, 1963.(Holland)
  • The determination of x-ray temperature factors for aluminium and potassium chloride single crystals using the nuclear resonant radiation. N. M. Butt and D. A.O'ConnorProc. Phys. Soc., 90, 247, 1967 (U.K).
  • Utilisation of Pakistan's Research Reactor (PARR). N. M. Butt (Proceedings).Proc. IAEA Regional Meeting, August 1971, Bandung, pp 41–74, 1971.(Indonesia)
  • Phonon disopersion in the mixed Crystal K0.5 Rb0.5 I.B. Renker, N. M. Butt, N. E. Massa Phys. Rev. B27, 1450–1452, 1983.(USA).
  • Study of cation distribution in the Mn-Zn ferrites using Mossbauer effect. M. Arshad, N. M. Butt, M. Siddique and M. Anwar-ul-Islam. Solid Stat. Commun. 84, 717-719, 1992.(U.K).
  • Correlation of temperature factors with physical properties in cubic elements. N. M. Butt, J. Bashir and M. Nasir Khan. J. Mat. Sci., 28, 1595–1606, 1993.(U.K).
  • Mechanism of quasi-morphine withdrawal behaviour induced by methylxanthines. N M Butt, H O Collier, N J Cuthbert, D L Francis, S A Saeed
  • Autografting as a risk factor for persisting iron overload in long-term survivors of acute myeloid leukaemia. N M Butt, R E Clark
  • High frequency of positive surveillance for cytomegalovirus (CMV) by PCR in allograft recipients at low risk of CMV. N M Butt, R E Clark
  • Selective inhibition of rat lung cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase and cyclic GMP phosphodiesterase by cyclic nucleotides and their analogues and various drugs. N M Butt, S A Saeed, H O Collier
  • Differential effects of haptoglobin and albumin on the oxygenation of arachidonic acid during prostaglandin biosynthesis. P A Denning-Kendall, N M Butt, S A Saeed, H O Collier
  • Physics in Nano-Science & Technology by N. M. Butt
  • Endogenous peptides that inhibit brain cyclic AMP phosphodiesterase. H O Collier, N M Butt, S A Saeed
  • Study of magnetic properties in Ni-Mn ferrites by Mossbauer Spectroscopy by M. Siddique, M. Anwar-ul-Islam, N.M. Butt, M. Shafi, T. Abbas and misbah-ul-Islam, 6th International Symposium on Advanced Materials 19–23 September (1999), Islamabad, Pakistan.
  • Mossbauer Spectroscopy Study of Ni-Mn Ferrites byM. Siddique, M. Anwar-ul-Islam, N.M. Butt, M. Shafi, T. Abbas and Misbah-ul-Islam, Abstract has been accepted in ICAME-99 (Germany) 29 August-03 Sep. 1999, (Paper could not be presented due to non-availability of funds).
  • Composition dependence of quadrupole splitting in Cd-Zn ferrites. By M. Siddique, M. Anwar-ul-Islam, N.M. Butt, T. Abbas and Misbah-ul-Islam, Phys. Stat. Sol. (b) 216 (1999) 1069, Nuclear Physics Division, PINSTECH.


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