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Government spending on R&D in nanoscience and nanotechnology has gone up by an order of magnitude in the last 5 years in recognition of the potential of the technology to propel India in the league of technologically developed nations of the world. A recent workshop at IIT Delhi highlighted the fact that scientists in India are working on the frontier areas of research, with a strong focus on applied research. A sampling of leading nanotechnology researchers in India is provided in the column this month.
July 20th, 2007
"Workshop on nanotechnology: Current status and Challenges" - Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, 2007
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in its World Investment Report 2005, ranked India third after the US and China as a R&D hotspot, which it defines as 'a place where companies can tap into existing networks of scientific and technical expertise; which has good links to academic research facilities; and provides an environment where innovation is supported and easy to commercialize." This is a consequence of continued R&D investment in India, which has grown at a CAGR of 45% since 2002. In India, about 85% of the R&D activities is carried out by the Government through its research labs and public sector units.
Under the leadership of the outgoing president, Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam, public spending on R&D in nanotechnology is rising in India. The government recently passed a proposal to invest Rs. 1000 Crore (US $230 million) under a five year Nano Science and Technology Mission (NSTM). This is follow on programme to the Nano Sciences and Nanotechnology Initiative (NSTI) launched in 2001 allocating Rs. 100 Crore (US$ 23 million) by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) for R&D in the field.
NSTI (2001-2006) was instrumental in funding about 100 basic science projects worth about Rs 60 Crore on areas like the synthesis and assembly of ceramic nanoparticles, nano-tubes, nano-wires, nano-porous solids, nano-structured alloys and DNA chips. About 20% of the funds were used in establishing six centers for nanoscience at institutions such as the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, and the different IITs. Each of these centers is aimed at producing a product or a device within a reasonable time-frame for 3 to 5 years. Some of the products being developed include MRAM, the NEMS-based thermal sensor, value-added fabrics, nano-particle-based drug delivery system, magnetic nano-particles for therapeutic use, super hard coatings, flexible display, biosensors and nano-patterned surfaces. Two national instrumentation and characterization facilities have also been set up under the initiative.
For the newly launched NSTM, there is no `mission document' yet available to give an idea of what the mission objectives would be and what the deliverables would be. However some details of how the money is likely to be invested can be obtained from the press releases and ministerial speeches. The mission envisages creation of national facilities at five different places specialising in complementary areas, including one or more nanofab facilities, with an investment of about Rs.100 crores in each of them over the next five years, 10 mini centres across the country (which may or may not be co-located with the national facility). The mission also proposes the creation of a synchrotron facility with an investment of about Rs.250 crores in addition to the one already being established under the Department of Atomic Energy.
A glimpse of current state of R&D in Indian universities was seen at the recently concluded "Workshop on Nanotechnology - Current Status and Challenges" at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. The rest of the column describes the contributions and research interests of some of the most prominent researchers present at the workshop.
Prof. A. K. Sood
( http://www.physics.iisc.ernet.in/~asood/ , )
Affiliated to Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Prof. Sood is renowned for his discovery of flow induced voltage generation in carbon nanotubes. His recent work is focused on nanotubes based vibration sensors and accelerometers. Other research activity underway within his group is on field emission from nanotube composites, and field effect electron transport phenomenon.
Prof. Prashant Mishra
( http://web.iitd.ac.in/~pmishra/ , )
Prof. Mishra works at Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology, IIT Delhi. His current research focuses on directed evolution of enzymes, non-aqueous enxymology, and preparation of biodegradable nanoparticles for pharmaceutical proteins.
Dr. Manish Sharma
( http://web.iitd.ac.in/~manishs/ , )
According to Dr. Sharma his research involves "rearranging atoms" which is the what nanotechnology is all about. Affiliated to Department of Physics, IIT Delhi, Dr. Sharma's students are working on characterization of magnetic materials and nanostructures, MEMS sensors and applications of these to biological systems
Prof. V. Ramgopal Rao
( http://www.ee.iitb.ac.in/wiki/faculty/rrao , )
Prof. Rao is heading the development of an integrated system to provide point-of-care diagnostic support for cardiovascular diseases. A multidisciplinary team from disciplines like Electrical, Bioengineering, Chemical, Chemistry, Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering is working on this project. The program is supported by National program on smart materials. Prof. Rao is a faculty member at Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Bombay and his research interests include multigate MOSFETS polymer transistors, CMOS design and bio MEMS.
Please send your feedback, ideas, and suggestions to Vivek Srivastava at .
Vivek holds a Ph. D. in materials science and has published over a dozen papers in international journals and contributed to international conferences and seminars. He has interests in commercialization of nanotechnology & new ventures with innovative business models to exploit the advantages India offers. He consults existing businesses to grow and expand in new technology areas, and serves as mentor to budding entrepreneurs. His current research interest are "severe plastic deformation methods for production of bulk nanomaterials" and "Role of industry dynamics on making R&D funding decisions".