Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science

Technical Research Centre

Technical Research Centre @ IACS

Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India has funded setting up a Technical Research Centre for Molecules and Materials at IACS, under the new initiative announced as a part of Finance Minister’s Budget Speech 2014. The proposed duration of the Centre is 5 years, which operates in a project mode and will be integrated with the mainstream research activity at IACS beyond the project tenure.

The Centre is expected to increase research collaboration in interdisciplinary areas, bringing about an emphasis on experimental research having theoretical foundation, foraying into emerging and frontier areas of quantum materials, advanced materials, nanomaterials, biologically inspired materials, biomaterials, photovoltaic materials, polymeric materials and exploring biological investigations for societal, environmental and therapeutic applications and so on. The Centre has a translational goal of taking basic research findings to industry by developing technology through PPP model.

IACS has years-old tradition and expertise of carrying along strong and unique synergy in research between Chemistry, Physics and Biology with an aim to constantly explore possibilities of applying the research findings to technology development that will be useful for society and mankind. A Technical Research Centre in IACS will indeed be a significant step towards consolidating molecules and materials research and translational work.

The Technical Research Centre at IACS is envisaged to increase research collaboration in the interdisciplinary areas, foraying into new vistas of translational research. As is clear now, the next decades would continue to belong to the materials because all technological innovations will be driven by developing materials and there appears to be a fantastic period ahead when biology, chemistry, physics and technology will meet together to define molecules and materials with new functionalities and properties that could not have been conceived earlier.

Keeping this in mind the TRC in IACS will cover a variety of areas such as nanomaterials, quantum materials, functional polymers and other organic molecules and systems, materials with spintronics applications, strongly correlated electron systems, bio-materials and biology-inspired materials. Under this initiative, we plan to put together several advanced instruments and facilities that would facilitate interdisciplinary research in materials, both in terms of synthesis of materials and investigation of their properties and functionalities, with the translational goal of developing applications and technologies based on such molecules and materials.

Latest News & Updates

— Technology Transfer

1. Professor Pradyut Ghosh has signed initially a MOU with Environmental research group, R&D, Tata Steel on removal of cyanide and chloride from steel industry waste water to mitigate the wastewater pollutants, reduce water consumption and maintain sustainable recycling process. The cage complex receptor (active ingredient) is capable of complexing 70-80% free cyanide in steel wastewater within 10 minutes. This particular molecular capsule has been made in large scale and delivered to TATA Steel Ltd. for removal of toxic elements from water.

2. A rubber based power source has been developed by Professor Somobrata Acharya at IACS for smart batteries of car industries. The technology has been transferred to and patented with Continental Germany for further development and commercialization.

— Project Funded

1. Unilever Pvt. Ltd. has funded a project to Professor Amitava Patra entitled “Antibacterial and photocatalytic properties of ZnO-9-aminoacridine hydrochloride hydrate drug nanoconjugates”.

2. Unilever Pvt. Ltd. has also funded a project to Professor Suhrit Ghosh entitled “Polymer-surfactant complex by Donor (D)-Acceptor (A) charge transfer (CT) interaction”.

3. Tata Steel Ltd. has funded a project to Professor Pradyut Ghosh entitled “Large scale production of cage compound for free cyanide trapping”.

4. Tata Steel Ltd. has also funded a project to Professor Tapas Chakraborty entitled “OH radical treatment for removal of the colorants in the coke plant effluent water”.

5. Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has funded a start-up project entitled “Management of crop diseases via drone assisted detection of pheromones and kairomones in a cotton farming land” under the leadership of Professor Santanu Bhattacharya through their Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) program.

— NDA Signed

Non-Disclosure Agreements have been signed with some of the leading industries like –

1. OSRAM

2. GK Machineries and Robotics Pvt. Ltd.

3. Monsanto

IMPACT STORIES

Crop Protection

Global crop yields are reduced up to 40% per year due to pest infestation, which affects the farmers and economy. TRC at IACS has taken major initiative to conserve the crop yield which was widely affected by plant pests. A unique approach has been established where sex pheromones of certain agricultural pests are detected first. Prior infestation stage can be identified in an agricultural field and necessary action can be taken to manage the pest infestation efficiently.

Waste Water Management

Waste water should not be wasted. The development of environmentally sustainable programs in sanitation, water and waste management is a clear objective of the Government of India. IACS has taken initiative for the development of receptor based “active ingredient” for trapping severely poisonous free cyanide present in the steel plant waste water. The synthetic receptor developed at TRC, IACS was tested for the remediation of both chloride and cyanide at the Sunsungoria plant of Tata Steel. Additionally IACS is analyzing effluent water from coalfields and mines.

Health

Department of Health Research, GOI suggested establishing a network of laboratories bridging research and applications for managing epidemics of these days. Promotion and co-ordination of basic and clinical research related to medical, health and education in areas like an early detection of disease has been proposed. Significant initiatives are taken by the TRC, IACS to address the public health and diagnosis issues at early stage. A new technology has been developed at IACS for easy and selective detection of human albumin present in urine, blood plasma, cerebrospinal fluid and pleural fluid collected from patients with different clinical manifestations. This user friendly inexpensive protocol may be invaluable in the early diagnosis of diseases and disorders. IACS has also made significant initiative through the development of a novel compound for the remediation of Ducheme Muscular Dystrophy.

Water Conservation

Over 40 million people are under arsenic threat in West Bengal itself and more than 100 million people are at risk in the gangetic plateau. Arsenic (As) exists in two different forms, namely As(III) and As(V). Although there exist methods to remove As(V), As(III) is quite difficult to remove from the contaminated water. TRC at IACS has started remediation of As(III) using ZnS nanorods which captures As(III) to form a mineral mimicking unique bio-mineralization process.

Energy

Main economic driver of all developed nations is cheap energy.  While India’s access to cheap oil is limited, advantaged by its location at the tropics, India has one of the highest potential for solar energy in the whole world. Logically “Solar India is Stronger India” as being reflected from “Prayas – Pradhan Mantri Yojana for Augmenting Solar Manufacturing”. Recently global focus shifted from Si-based solar cells and accrodingly several scientists at the TRC, IACS are working towards renewable energy specifically on Hydrogen, Fuel Cells targeting energy generation and storage, scavenging energy from self-powered functions, triboelectric power generation module using waste nylon and etc. for the generation of voltages and LEDs which may find potential market application.

Sustainable Science

Plastic hazards are emerging as a serious threat to the human civilization and environment. Polymers are used everywhere. However only a few of them are bio-degradable. Moreover the raw materials for synthetic polymers consume significant amount of natural resources. Therefore the challenge is two folds:
(i) In one hand there is search for recyclable resources for making new polymers and (ii) On the other hand, there is a serious thrust for making new polymers with bio-degradable character.
In  the TRC at IACS, scientists aim to address these emerging challenges.

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