The vivid and myriad colours of the natural world captivate our eyes and benefit life on earth. Learning how nature colours its palette advances our understanding of the world around us and hence scientists ubiquitously are trying to imitate designs inspired by nature, to fabricate better devices. Now, a collaborative study between researchers at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bengaluru, and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, has proposed a novel technique to build better display devices that imitate naturally occurring colours.
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Can the omnipresent bacteria work for us, run our cars, refrigerate our food or fuel our aeroplanes? Yes, say scientists from the Indian Institute of Science and the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore. In a ground-breaking interdisciplinary experiment, the team have built a micro heat engine that works using bacterial reservoirs. This study was the result of a collaborative effort between Prof. Ajay Sood and his graduate student Sudheesh Krishnamoorthy from the Department of Physics, IISc, Dr. Rajesh Ganapathy from JNCASR and Prof. Dipankar Chatterji and his student Subho Ghosh from the Molecular Biophysics Unit, IISc.
Often in physics, new discoveries are made by improving the sensitivities of measurements, such as the recent example of the gravitational wave detector. One way to improve the sensitivities for the measurement and transduction of physical forces is cavity optomechanics. Cavity-optomechanics is an interdisciplinary area of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, optics and quantum physics.It emerged as an independent field of its own only very recently, and utilizes the interaction between mechanical motion and light. Recently featured as the ‘milestone of photon history’ in nature photonics, cavity optomechanics is also one of the chosen fields of interest for Dr. Vibhor Singh, Assistant Professor at the Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Dr. Vibhor has worked extensively in nanomechanical systems during his graduate as well as post doctoral career and has recently joined IISc. He is currently setting up an experimental laboratory to explore various nanomechanical and optomechanical systems.
The year 2016 has been the year of achievements for astrophysics. The discovery of Gravitational waves was a much celebrated event. This was followed by the recent news of discovery of thousands of exoplanets, exciting the scientists in this field. In our backyard at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Prof. Banibrata Mukhopadhyay and his team are making some path-breaking research in astrophysics.
We all know the story of how computers evolved from mammoth sized calculating machines to miniaturized, user friendly, ubiquitous devices used for anything and everything. Devices of progressively decreasing size and ever increasing capabilities are a necessity of the modern age and are made possible by understanding and taking advantage of the properties of various materials around us in all their different sizes and phases. This is why material science reigns as a field of much research interest and activity.
Indian Institute of Science, the country's premier research institute has a new start-up. SuryaGen, a brain child of Professor Vasant Natarajan, Department of Physics, IISc. The Professor, who studied in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and specialises in making remarkably precise measurements, has applied simple laws of physics to address the two most importantconcerns of today: access to clean and affordable drinking water and lighting. As a response to these challenges, SuryaGen has come out with a low cost solar water purifier and a salt water lamp. This is indeed in tune with the 'Make in India' campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.
Nitrogen dioxide is toxic to humans when inhaled. Unfortunately, our noses get anaesthetised when exposed to low levels of nitrogen dioxide. This prevents us from sensing the otherwise acrid gas, creating a possibility for overexposure with harmful effects on health. This may lead to poisoning of the lung, which in some cases might prove to be fatal.
A team of scientists from Switzerland, Germany and India report the first ever observation of a quantum phenomenon in engineered atomic wire. Called the 'spin-orbit density wave', this phenomenon was just a theoretical speculation so far, and an experimental observation eluded scientists around the globe. This new discovery could potentially help build electronic devices that are much faster than what we have now.
One of the more startling revelations of Physics in the last century has been the idea that Quantum Physics, far from being an exotic theory, is probably the standard description of our world, and that classical physics is merely an approximation at large length scales. Even from a purely geometrical point of view, the properties of materials become interesting as we approach the nanometre scale. The volume of simple shapes decreases faster than their surface area does, as the shape is uniformly shrunk from all directions. The resulting zero-dimensional structures called quantum dots, are not the only way to reduce a material’s size. When a cube’s length and breadth are kept the same but its thickness is reduced to a few atoms in extent, the resulting “nanosheet” has almost no volume, while still having a high surface area. Materials like Graphene, Molybdenum disulphide and Topological Insulators belong to the class of such two-dimensional (2D) materials. Certain other materials such as Silver and Phosphorus in Germanium can be shrunk into so-called ‘nanowires’, in which both width and thickness are reduced to nanometres. These one-dimensional (1D) systems have neither surface area nor volume, but only length.
Technology has been advancing at an incredible pace over the last 40 years, ever since the invention of integrated circuits. Computers that originally occupied large rooms can now sit on our palm. This rapid growth was due to the invention of an electronic device called the Field Effect Transistor in the year 1947.Semiconductors replaced the bulky vacuum tubes of the day, and reduced the size of electronic circuits. Commercial microprocessors today contain well over 1 billion transistors, and special purpose integrated circuits can contain ten times as many. In 1965 Gordon E Moore, a co-founder of Intel Corporation, predicted that the number of components in a dense integrated circuit would double every two years. Industries use this simple observation, called Moore’s law, to set their targets and drive innovation. This has resulted in faster computing, larger storage, better sensors and more pixels in our cameras. However, we are at a stage where industries find that they cannot shrink transistors further at the same rate, as they reach fundamental physical and economical challenges.