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Professor Praveen Kumar - A materials scientist with an eye for detail

Dropped your mobile phone? You may soon stop worrying about it, thanks to the newly discovered phenomena related to carbon nanotube foam used as a shock-absorbent material in mobile phones. As a material scientist, Prof. Praveen Kumar’s work on studying the mechanical behaviour of materials has earned him various awards, the most recent ones being the Indian National Science Academy Young Scientist Award, 2016, National Academy of Science, India -Young Scientist Platinum Jubilee awards - 2016 and Associate of Indian Academy of Science. In his Thermo-Electro-Mechanical Behaviour Lab at the Department of Materials Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Prof. Kumar and his students study the effects of size and electric fields on mechanical properties of materials and materials processing.

Fireside chat with Ms. Alyssa Gilbert

The world is definitely getting hotter, thanks to climate change – the topic that is hottest at the moment! What responsibilities do scientific institutes and businesses have, to make this world a cooler place, quite literally? Who can explain this better than Ms. Gilbert, Head of Policy at the Grantham Institute - Climate Change and Environment at Imperial College London! Ms. Gilbert is engaged in connecting relevant research across universities with policy-makers and businesses. In a candid interview during her visit to the Divecha Centre for Climate Change at the Indian Institute of Science, she opens up on her role and its challenges, the opportunities this situation presents, and her opinions on actions that need to be taken in tackling climate change.

IISc Scientists New Discovery Yields a Giant Leap in Graphene Transistor Performance Primary tabs

In a major breakthrough in the field of graphene based electronics, researchers from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, have shown a big jump in understanding the quantum nature of graphene’s interface with outside world. The research team lead by Prof. Mayank Shrivastava (Department of Electronic Systems Engineering), studied how the overlap of atomic orbitals between Carbon and metal atoms affects the graphene-metal interface. The study has enabled them to invent novel techniques to engineer graphene contact that has the lowest recorded resistance to the external world. Their discovery and subsequent invention, while breaking several records – including the one from IBM’s research centre in T. J. Watson, USA – has eventually allowed achieving the highest transistor performance. This work, which is co-authored by PhD student Adil Meersha and co-investigators Prof. Srinivasan Raghavan and Prof. Navakanta Bhat is showcased at International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM), the world’s most competitive platform in the field of electron devices, which mostly showcases technology and fundamental breakthroughs in the field.

Novel Methodology to automatically filter relevant parts from documents

Product designers have the responsibility of ensuring the product they design goes to production without any issues. There are various snippets of “knowledge” available in the form of historic production documents, shop floor records, case studies, etc., both offline and online, that can greatly help get an early insight into potential issues. However, a major drawback is the lack of identifying “knowledge” based on this due to their fragmented distribution. Now, researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Mr. N. Madhusudanan, Prof. Amaresh Chakrabarti and Prof. B. Gurumoorthy, at the Centre for Product Design and Manufacturinghave developed a method for automatically recovering relevant information from document collections. They validated this methodology in the context of aircraft assembly.

Scientists Use Turmeric for Bone Regeneration

Turmeric is a ubiquitous ingredient in home remedies for ailments ranging from infections to arthritis. A mixture of turmeric and milk (haldi-doodh) has been used as a traditional cure for bone fractures. Modern science has shown that curcumin, the primary component of turmeric, possesses anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. In recent times, researchers in the field of bone tissue engineering, who seek to engineer novel strategies for bone tissue regeneration, are exploring the documented benefits of curcumin on bone growth. Now, a new study by Prof. Kaushik Chatterjee and his group at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, shows that encapsulating curcumin in a restorable ‘scaffold’ enables sustained release of the chemical, and enhances bone repair. The study is an attempt to highlight the promise of phytochemicals, a class of molecules found in Indian spices, in bone tissue engineering.

Scientists use Nanotechnology to resist wear

In a recently published study, scientists at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, are addressing one of the biggest challenges faced by many appliances - wear and friction due to usage. Wear and friction affects the lifetime of industrial equipment, which directly correlates with the profitability of the business. The teams of researchers, led by Prof. M.S. Bobji at the Department of Mechanical Engineering are now experimenting with alumina based nanocomposite coating for wear resistance.

IISc scientists design cost-effective treatment for sepsis

When our body’s defensive immune responses end up injuring our own tissues and organs while fighting infections, it results in a clinical condition called sepsis. It is one of the leading causes of global mortality, with an estimated 90,000 deaths every year in India alone. Once it kicks off, sepsis or “septic shock”, commonly results in tissue damage, multiple organ failure and eventually death in high-risk patients. Fungal, viral and parasitic infections can all cause sepsis, with bacteria being the most common culprits. Conventionally, sepsis is treated using expensive antibiotics with poor shelf lives. Now, a new study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, has proposed a cost-effective treatment for sepsis.

Enabling differently abled women – scientists design an innovative hygiene product for disabled women

In a society dominated by people who can independently carry out daily activities, the challenges faced by differently abled individuals are rarely acknowledged. With thoughtful design approaches, simple day-to-day activities could be made easier for such individuals. A great example of this is a novel hygiene product designed by Master students Shubham Pudke and Suyog Dhanawade under the guidance of Prof. Dibakar Sen at the Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore to aid disabled women with just one functional hand. The newly designed sanitary napkin wearing aid not only meets the hygienic demands, but also enables its use without relying on a caregiver. “Activities of daily lives are primary activities for everyone for their dignity and independence from physical support of others. It enables other family members to explore sources of earnings when the primary bread earner becomes disabled due to any circumstances”, says Prof. Sen, elaborating on the motivation for the study.

UPSCAPE: A scientific approach to better water management in the Cauvery River Basin

In an effort to make water resources sustainable, the Ministry of Earth Sciences, India and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK have funded a new project “Upscaling Catchment Processes for Sustainable Water Management in Peninsular India” (UPSCAPE). It is a 3-year £2 million research project that is one of the three projects in India initiated under the ambitious Newton-Bhabha Sustaining Water Resources Programme. Six institutes have come together as partners in this project, of which the prestigious Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, is the lead Institute from India. “The motivating factor of the Newton-Bhabha project is to ensure science reaches the society and benefits it”, says Prof. Pradeep Mujumdar, Chairman at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Water Research, Indian Institute of Science. He also leads the team of Indian scientists working on the UPSCAPE project in the Cauvery river basin.

Smaller the size, better the functionality - Certain materials can change polarization and magnetization on shrinking, discover scientists

Ferroelectric materials carry a spontaneously polarized charge within their crystalline structure that can be reversed by the application of an electric field. As scientists try to shrink them to nanometre sizes, these materials often lose their polarization. Now, a collaborative research team from India and Germany has observed an unexpected effect in the ferroelectric alloy of bismuth ferrite and lead titanate (BiFeO3-PbTiO3). They have found that mechanically grinding this material to smaller sizes actually leads to a different atomic arrangement - a new structural phase that retains the polarization with slight alteration. This discovery opens up interesting possibilities for using this ferroelectric material in a variety of miniaturised devices - computer memory, RFIDs, sensors and actuators.

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