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Annual Report 2007-2008

National Mission on Nano Science and Technology (NANO MISSION)

A Mission on Nano Science & Technology (Nano Mission) was launched in May, 2007 to foster, promote and develop all aspects of nanoscience and nanotechnology which have the potential to benefit the country. The Mission is steered by a Nano Mission Council (NMC) under the Chairmanship of Prof. CNR Rao. The technical programmes of the Nano Mission are also being guided by two advisory groups, viz. the Nano Science Advisory Group (NSAG) and the Nano Applications and Technology Advisory Group (NATAG).

The primary objectives of the Nano-Mission are:

  • Basic Research Promotion – Development of fundamental understanding of matter that enables control and manipulation at the nanoscale. Multidisciplinary research will be especially encouraged. Shall provide support to individual investigators and interdisciplinary groups of investigators. Creation of Centres of Excellence and major research facilities at various locations where knowledge-base exists.
  • Infrastructure Development for Nano Science & Technology Research –Investigations on the nano scale require expensive equipments like Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM), Scanning Probe Microscope (SPM), Optical Tweezer etc. For optimum use of resources, it is proposed to establish a chain of shared facilities across the country.
  • Public Private Partnerships and Nano Applications and Technology Development Centres - A strong linkage between academic institutions, R&D institutions and industries is called for. To evolve a system involving co-operative, multidisciplinary, public private ventures, with adequate access to risk capital and funding. To catalyze Applications and Technology Development Programmes leading to products and devices, the Mission proposes to institute activities like Public Private R&D Projects, Nano Applications and Technology Development Centres, Nano-Technology Business Incubators etc.
  • Human Resource Development – A long-term and technologically competitive programme like this needs adequate number of high-quality researchers who can carry out R&D. The Mission shall focus on providing effective education and training to researchers and professionals in diversified fields so that a genuine interdisciplinary culture for nanoscale science, engineering and technology can emerge.
  • International Collaborations – Research and Development in Nano-Science and Technology has been identified as a priority area in our S&T co-operation agreements with many countries such as USA, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Japan etc. Apart from exploratory visits of scientists, organization of joint workshops and conferences and joint research projects, co-ordinated access to sophisticated research facilities is an important component of such agreements. Academia-Industry partnerships will also be
    nurtured under these programmes.

The Department continued its support for R&D in potential and challenging areas of Nano Science & Technology. It extended support to scientists for their individual projects, setting up of core groups and units around outstanding scientists and centres for Nano Technology.

For nurturing Public-Private-Partnership activities, the Department has sanctioned a few nanotechnology projects. The notable ones are:

Nano Functional Materials Technology Centre (NFMTC) at the Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai: The Centre addresses cost effective method for the production of oxide ceramic powders of nano size; consolidation and sintering of Nanocrystalline Oxide Powders for the production of bulk ceramics; Nanocrystalline diamond (NCD) films/coatings on die-inserts and plugs to increase wear-resistance and durability; cost effective production of large scale and highly pure random and aligned Carbon Nanotubes (CNT); nanostructured multi-drug-delivery system for hard tissue applications and CNTs for laser based treatment of cancer by photodynamic therapy. The participating industries are Murugappa Chettiar Group and Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals.

Development of High performance rubber nanocomposites for tyre engineering: This project being implemented at M.G University, Kottayam envisages the development of novel technologies in tyre engineering band on nanosize fillers in collaboration with Apollo Tyres.

Research program on Smart and Innovative Textiles (SMITA) at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi: Smart textile is an emerging area. The programme aims at fundamental understanding of generation of novel materials such as nanofibres, nanofinishes, and encapsulated phase change materials with desired characteristics; investigation of novel methods that are suitable for integrating above materials to textile substrates; fundamental understanding of the effect of the above materials and methods on functionalization of textile structures for developing smart textile; development of technology for upscaling the above processes for industrial benefit and creating new products for high value addition in the textile sector and creating comprehensive expertise and competence within the country by man-power training and enhancement of technical knowledge base. The participating industries are Resil Chemicals, Bangalore; Purolator India Limited, Gurgaon; and Pluss Polymers Pvt. Ltd., Delhi.

The Mission took steps to initiate PG Teaching programmes (M.Sc & M.Tech) in this field. An International Conference on Nano Science & Technology (ICONSAT 2008) was organized during February 27-29, 2008 at Chennai.

A national review and coordination meeting for monitoring the Nano Science & Technology projects sanctioned by the Department was held on February 21-23, 2007 in Hyderabad. The first ever National Research Awards in Nano Science and Technology to recognize outstanding contributions of Indian Scientists to the advancement of nano scale Science & Technology in the country were conferred to Prof. A.K Sood of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Prof. D Chakravorty of Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Kolkata. The award carries a cash prize of Rs. 50,000/- and a certificate.

Unit on Nano Science at JNCASR, Bangalore has synthesized Nanocrystals of pure CoO and ReO3 for the first time, employing a one-pot solvothermal technique. Inorganic nanowires and nanotubes have been prepared using templates like anodic alumina membranes and hydoregels. Improved synthesis of carbon nanotubes with junctions as well as of inorganic nanowires has been achieved. GaS and GaSe nanowalls and nanotubes have been obtained through exfoliation by laser irradiation and thermal treatment. Laser ablation has been employed to produce ZnO nanopyramids as well as cup-like metal nanostructures. Sensors with high sensitivity and low recovery time for humidity, H2, ethanol, carbon monoxide, LPG, NO2, NO and N2O have been fabricated using various metal oxides nanostructures.

The Unit on Nano Science at IIT, Kanpur has reported the development of two novel soft lithography techniques, namely, elastic contact lithography and adhesive force assisted lithography based on selforganization of polymer thin films. Both the techniques have potential applications in patterning of large areas on sub-micron levels. Two Indian patents and PCT applications have been filed for these techniques. The group has prepared a rectangular lattice of CoPt squares on NbN super conducting films using the technique of focused ion beam milling. Preliminary studies of electron transport in these systems reveal fascinating consequences of the antagonism between superconductivity and magnetism.

Steps were initiated for recommended the establishment of three Institutes of Nano Science & Technology (INSTs) as part of the existing active centres in Nano Science & Technology. These INSTs will be at (i) Mohali, co-located with IISER, Mohali, as a centre of ARCI, Hyderabad, (ii) at JNCASR, Bangalore as a joint centre of JNCASR and IISc and (iii) at IACS, Kolkata.

Utilization of Scientific Expertise of Retired Scientists (USERS)

USERS scheme aims to utilize the expertise and potential of large number of Eminent Scientists in the country who remain active and deeply motivated to participate in S&T development even after their retirement. The main activity under this programme is preparation of books/monographs and state of art-reports. Several retired scientists have been supported and fifteen projects were sanctioned during this financial year. Some of the important projects commissioned during the year include:

Experimental Models in Biology; Exploration Modeling for Bas.Noble Metals with Special Reference to Sediment-hosted Lead-Zinc-Copper-Gold Deposits in the North Western Indian Shield; Geology and Mineral Resources of Orissa; The Supply Chain and Management of Fresh, Processed and Combat Foods for the Armed Forces: The Past, Present and Future; Industrial Enzymes and Their Applications; Speciality Cut Flowers - Production Technologies; Mineral Deposits - its Economic Evaluation, Exploitation and Conservation; Indian Rhododendrons : Floral and Foliar Splendour of the Himalayan Flora; Design of Machine Elements; Ascomycetes of Peninsular India; Advanced Geochemistry; Rice:Microscopy of the Plant and Grain; Monograph on Hospital Waste Management; Basic Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy; Atlas of Oxide Ores of India and their Texture; Fundamentals of Fiber Optics and Lasers; Evnironmental impact assessment and auditing: Principles and Techniques; Fossils in Earth Sciences; Science and Technology policies and programmes for Socio-economic development in India; Diversity, Evolution and adaptation of Air-Breathing Fishes; Manual of Solar Astronomy - for beginners; Technological Intervention in cultivation, processing and utilisation of Aromatic plants; Synopsis of the Genera of Terebrantia (Thysanoptera, Insecta) in India; Kothari Education Commission Report (1966): - A Report; Remote Sensing and GIS for natural resource survey’s; Indian Systems of Medicine; Biopesticide: Strageties in pest Management; Radiobioconjugate Targetting in cancers and infective lesions: Technology and clinical applications; Theory of Domination in Graphs; and Biological Control of Plant Diseases: Principles and practices.

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