Project Proposals

List of Project Proposals for the year 2021-22 

Sl. No.

Project Code

Faculty Name

Unit

Project Title

1

BS-A

Dr. Bivas Saha

CPMU

Optoelectronic Synaptic Devices for Artificial Neural Networks

Synaptic devices that mimic biological synapses are critical building blocks for artificial neural networks and neuromorphic computing. Motivated by optogenetics, in this work, we propose to develop optoelectronic synaptic devices that exhibit wide bandwidth, negligible RC delays and low power loss.

2

BS-B

Dr. Bivas Saha

CPMU

Phonon-Polaritons in Nitride Semiconductors.

Phonon polaritons in nitride semiconductors can strongly enhance light-matter interactions at mid-infrared frequencies owing to their extreme field confinement and long lifetimes.In this work, we propose to engineer phonon polaritons to nitride semiconductors and semiconductor heterostructures, and utilize their properties in designing mid-IR spectral range applications.

3

TKM-A

Prof. Tapas Kumar Maji

CPMU

Post-synthetic modifications in MOFs and porous organic polymers for photocatalytic water and CO2 reduction.

Our research work is focused on developing porous materials based on robust, efficient and cheap photocatalysts to realize visible-light-driven water and CO2 reduction reactions. We engineered pore surfaces of porous materials by grafting suitable chromophoric molecule through post-synthetic modification toward efficient photocatalytic performances.We are also involved in fabricating charge-transfer regulated coordination polymer gels wherein controlling the morphology of the self-assembled architecture are proven to be incredibly important to regulate the photocatalytic performances. Thus, in the broader picture, we are consistently looking to address a global concern of the energy crisis in an environmentally benign manner by developing novel porous materials as efficient photocatalysts.

4

TKM-B

Prof. Tapas Kumar Maji

CPMU

Electroactive porous organic polymers as bi/tri-functional electrocatalyst and as cathode materials for metal-air batteries.

We are involved in designing and developing novel redox-active porous organic polymers comprising conjugated microporous organic polymers (CMPs) and covalent organic frameworks (COFs). These materials not only displayed metal-free electrocatalytic property for oxygen reduction (ORR) as well as hydrogen /oxygen evolution reaction (HER and OER) but also found to be capable of in-situ stabilization of metal nanoparticles. The resulting composites have displayed electrocatalytic activity toward oxygen evolution reaction (OER) in addition to the ORR and HER, and thus, metal-air batteries were fabricated with them. In short, we perform a comprehensive study on designing and developing novel electroactive porous polymer materials and utilize them further to fabricate cheap and stable metal-air batteries for practical utility.

5

KSN-A

Prof. K.S. Narayan

CPMU

Interfacing Cells-Tissue-Organs with Bio-compatible Organic Electronics.

The possibility of seamlessly integrating sensory organs with device components and circuits consisting of soft electronic materials on biocompatible substrates offers useful options to the monitor-enhance-augment natural response to various stimuli. The optoelectronic properties of these tailored-materials and substrates have recently been utilized in our laboratory as active triggers for neuronal stimulation. We have pioneered the use of these novel optoelectronic features of organic semiconductors as an interface to evoke neuronal signals (from retinal ganglion cells) in a blind retina of a developing chick-embryo. This possibility of triggering neuronal signals in a blind retina has opened up a route for utilizing these (intelligent) structures as a prosthetic element. These promising initial results require a systematic deeper understanding to enable promising route for vision restoration targeted in eye disorders such as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. Research problems and themes around this topic are also currently being pursued. Light-triggered biophysical events, electric field changes, and recordings are a common thread in many of these activities. These range of topic are truly interdisciplinary where multiple expertise and skillsets are put to use. Students who are interested in this topic and can contribute can be from any discipline and interests such as biomedical, biophysics, cell culture and development, neuroscience, small-signal measurement and analysis, microscopy, statistical techniques are welcome.

6

KSN-B

Prof. K.S. Narayan

CPMU

Predicting the Thirty Year Performanceof Solar Panels by Measurements and Modelling.

Large-scale deployment of photovoltaic (PV) panels across the world has led to a need for stringent tests and quality checks so that the PV panels can last the expected promise and performance for thirty years. Besides the economic implications, non-performing panels inundating our landscape and rooftops can become a huge potential environmental issue. A common range of methods like electroluminescence (EL), PL, high-resolution optical images, and thermography is utilized to identify the typical defects and their possible origin. We realize the inadequacy of these methods to completely sort the performance parameters with the obtained images. In this line of pursuit, we have introduced a method calledthe light-beam induced current (LBIC) scanning technique, which can be utilized at large panel-dimension scales at reasonably high speed. LBIC is inherently quantitative and well suited to identify microscopic defects since it involves measuring the photocurrent in response to a local light beam. Besides building and fabricating these imaging scanners, we develop circuit-models to realistically represent the devices. Students who are interested in this topic and can contribute can be from any discipline and interests such as solar-panel analysis and assessment, signal measurement and analysis, imaging and microscopy, (big) data analysis and handling, machine-learning skills are welcome.

7

TNCV-A

Prof. T.N.C. Vidya

EIBU

Simulations to understand male elephant social organization

8

KRS-A

Prof. K.R.Sreenivas

EMU

Experimental Fluid Mechanics and Thermal Sciences.

9

GS-A

Prof. Ganesh Subramanian

EMU

Theoretical and numerical fluid mechanics (Complex flows and fluids)

10

PS-A

Dr. Premkumar Senguttuvan

ICMS

Towards Realization of High Energy Density Phosphate Cathodes for Sodium-ion Batteries.

The pursuit on high energy density cathodes for sodium-ion battery application has become intense in order to improve the energy density overall battery system. Phosphate cathodes are preferred due to their high intercalation voltages, chemical and thermal stabilities. However, they suffer from limited storage capacities owing to electrochemical inactive phosphate units. A plausible way to improve their storage capacity is to introduce multi-electron redox centers in the framework. Herein, we will attempt to introduce multi-electron redox centers in NASICON class of materials through alio- and iso-valent chemical substitutions. These substitutions are expected to tune electronic and (local)crystal structures, thereby enhancing overall performance metrics of cathode materials. References : 1) C. Masquelier, L. Croguennec, Chem. Rev. (2013), 113, 6552. 2) S. Ghosh, N. Barman, M. Mazumder, S. K. Pati, G.Rousse, P. Senguttuvan, Adv. Energy Mater. (2019), 1902918.

11

PS-B

Dr. Premkumar Senguttuvan

ICMS

Development of Long-Life Zn Metal Anode for Rechargeable Aqueous Zinc- metal Batteries.

Zinc metal anode has several advantages including higher volumetric energy density (5854 mAh L-1) and suitable equilibrium potential of (-0.76 V vs SHE) which enables safer operation in aqueous electrolytes.1 However, its practical application faces several issues including 1) dendrite formation, 2) Zn corrosion and hydrogen evolution.2 Whilst the former issue results in lower Coulombic efficiencies and short-circuit of battery, the latter generates “dead zinc” which causes cycling instability and battery inflation/electrolyte leakage. This project will survey various classes of additives to tune the aqueous Zn2+-ion electrolyte properties, thereby enabling long cycle life Zn metal anodes. References: S. Guo, L. Qin, T. Zhang, M. Zhou, J. Zhou, G. Fang and S. Liang, Energy Storage Mater., (2021), 34, 545–562; Q. Yang, Q. Li, Z. Liu, D. Wang, Y. Guo, X. Li, Y. Tang, H. Li, B. Dong and C. Zhi, Adv. Mater., 2020, 32, 2001854.

12

HB-A

Prof. Hemalatha Balaram

MBGU

Investigating the molecular basis thermostability in an archaeal enzyme.

Proteins from thermophiles exhibit remarkable structural and functional stability even at elevated temperatures. Earlier studies from the laboratory have shown that a unique peptide backbone post-translational modification (PTM) imparts hyperthermostability to the protein, glutamine amidotransferase from the Archeon Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (Nature Communications 7, 12798 (2016)). Using the recently solved crystal structures of the enzyme, the aim of the study is to identify structural features associated with the PTM that impact hyperthermal stability. Techniques that will be used are site-specific mutagenesis, protein purification, circular dichroism, mass spectrometry, and x-ray crystallography.

13

HB-B

Prof. Hemalatha Balaram

MBGU

Characterization of transporters that mediate metabolite transfer across cytosol and mitochondrion in the malaria parasite plasmodium

Malaria caused by the protozoan parasite Plasmodium remains a major clinical burden due to the emergence of drug resistant strains. This parasite exhibits many unique features with regard to its cellular metabolism that can be exploited as new drug targets. The metabolic pathways that we have been studying have certain reactions occurring in the cytosol and others in the mitochondrion, and hence require active transport of metabolites across the two compartments. The aim of the study would be to characterize and examine the role of specific transporters in both P. berghei and P. falciparum using tools of biochemistry, reverse genetics and molecular biology.

14

MI-A

Prof. Maneesha Inamdar

MBGU

The role of post-translational modifications in regulation of stem cells.

Stem cell maintenance is key to achieving tissue homeostasis and disease prevention. We have identified several stem cell proteins that when deregulated in humans lead to carcinomas and an aberrant cell cycle. By generation of knockout mice and CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene edited stem cells we find that these proteins control regulation of the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). The aim of this project is to identify isoforms and PTMs of these proteins that regulate EMT in normal and disease contexts. Essential Skills: Strong foundation in cell and molecular biology and training in related laboratory techniques; Desirable skills: experience in mammalian cell culture, familiarity with bioinformatics tools, image analysis, data analysis.

15

MI-B

Prof. Maneesha Inamdar

MBGU

Computational Stem Cell Biology.

Regenerative medicine, the new frontier of medicine, is grounded in stem cell biology. Molecular resolution into stem cell regulation provided by recent high-throughput advances (sequencing, image analysis etc.) has given a wealth of information that needs analysis from a systems/quantitative perspective to gain a better understanding of complex biological, developmental, and disease processes, and use that information to guide cell-fate decisions. This requires cross-disciplinary analysis and inputs from quantitative sciences such as physics, mathematics and computer science. This project is looking for trainees with a strong background in quantitative sciences and a keen interest in interacting with stem cell biologists and systems biologists/engineers. Skills desirable - Basic understanding of molecular biology; basic programming skills or demonstrated ability to pick them up in specific programming language; exposure to computational and/or systems biology research.

16

SV-A

Prof. Sheeba Vasu

NSU

Circadian clock evolution.

Circadian clocks are believed to have evolved as a mechanism to efficiently time physiology and behaviour of organisms to the 24hr geophysical cycles imposed by the rotation of earth on its axis. Our laboratory studies populations of fruit flies which have been subjected to conditions where such time information has been modified, to examine how clocks evolve under such conditions. The project will involve comparisons of circadian clocks of populations that have been maintained for hundreds of generations in absence of daily time information - continuous darkness or continuous light, or very short / long light:dark cycles or even in an outdoor enclosure.

17

SV-B

Prof. Sheeba Vasu

NSU

Fly movement patterns.

This project aims to develop a computational model to describe walking patterns of Drosophila across time based on videographic data of real fly movement in a 2D arena. Behavioural experiments will also be conducted with different fly strains to test the ability of the model to predict fly movement patterns. Familiarity with Drosophila biology is not required but basic knowledge of programming (preferably MATLAB) and a good understanding of basic statistical analyses is essential for this project.

18

JPC-A

Prof. James P.Chelliah

NSU

Investigating the dysfunction of kainite receptors in the pathophysiology of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Kainate receptors are one of the ionotropic receptors that regulate synaptic plasticity. Activation of these receptors is necessary for accurate ability to learn and recollect learnt information. However, it is unclear how mutations in genes encoding proteins contribute to the pathophysiology of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Using the Syngap1 heterozygous mutant mouse model and electrophysiology, we will investigate whether Kainate receptors are impaired in this mutation and how it may contribute to the pathophysiology observed in these mice.

19

SCP-A

Prof. Sebastian C. Peter

NCU

Development of the Integrated Technologies for the Economic Conversion of Anthropogenic CO2 to Chemical and Fuels.

Prof. Peter has translated fundamental research in catalytic chemistry to recycle carbon into a technological solution to tackle the grand-challenge global problem of climate change and energy. In this technology, his team has developed an economic, sustainable and scalable solution that reduces the most dominant green house gas, CO2, into a useful chemicals and fuels via thermochemical, electrochemical and photochemical pathways. He has established a dedicated R&D Centre at JNCASR for this research using the concepts of science and engineering in the area of CO2 capture and reduction. The major focuses of this research are material design, process engineering, integration of multiple components, techno-economic analysis, life cycle analysis, scaling up and commercialization.

20

SCP-B

Prof. Sebastian C. Peter

NCU

Low Cost Material Design and Membrane Fabrication for the Conversion of Chemcial Energy to Electrical Energy in Fuel Cells.

How about replacing gasoline and diesel with hydrogen and natural air forming benevolent water and electricity running cars? Among the family of fuel cell technologies, polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells have some uniquely attractive features. Our research involves the development of highly efficient and stable electrocatalysts that will effectively catalyze the reduction of oxygen into water (ORR), oxidation of small molecules into value-added chemicals (SOMO) and also electrochemically split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Our developed technology involves the fabrication of a membrane electrode assembly (MEA) using our catalysts at the cathode side and Pt/C at the anode. These MEAs are used for real time testing in a single stack full cell test station that can produce 100 mW/cm2 power and 30 mA/cm2 current in a single run for a period of 48-72 hours.

21

KB-A

Prof. Kanishka Biswas

NCU

Thermoelectrics: Converting Waste Heat to Electricity.

Nearly 65 % of utilized energy is being lost as waste heat. Thermoelectric materials can convert waste heat into electrical energy, and thus can play an important role in future energy management and energy crisis. Current challenges in the thermoelectric research include: (a) synthesis of new high performance thermoelectric materials, (b) decoupling of electronic and thermal transport, and (c) module/device development for power generation.Here, we will be designing new materials and enhancing the thermoelectric properties of inorganic solids by reducing thermal conductivity and improving the power factor, thereby increasing the dimensionless figure of merit, zT.

22

KB-B

Prof. Kanishka Biswas

NCU

Water Purification: Capturing Heavy Metal Ions from Polluted Water.

Clean water is of vital importance for humans; still, more than one billion people lack access to it. Rapid industrialization and the development of nuclear energy have led to the discharge of heavy metal ions and radionuclides into water resources.Current challenges in capturing these toxic metal ions include synthesis and design of prototype cartridge with a novel stable low-cost material which can work in wide pH range with fast kinetics, large adsorption capacity, and is capable of removing heavy metal ions selectively from water in ppb level, which is below the drinking water tolerance limits given by USA-EPA government. In this project, we will be designing new two and three-dimensional materials to capture arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury and other toxic ions from water and study the adsorption properties in detail.

23

SJB-A

Prof. Subi J. George

NCU

Synthesis and Photophysical studies of Organic Phosphorescent Molecules.

Synthesis of air-stable organic phosphorescent molecules is an actively pursued research area with lot of interest, because of its potential applications in Organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), sensors and as after-glow materials. In this context, our group focus on the novel molecular design for ambient-stable organic phosphors with solution processability. Structural modifications of arylene-diimides and organic-inorganic soft-hybrids are the two different approaches we follow. For details see the recent publications from our group on this topic (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 57, 17115; Adv. Funct. Mater. 2020, 30, 2003693; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2020, 59, 9393). Students in the project will be getting trained in the organic synthesis of luminescent molecules, its characterization, and photophysical studies such as UV, PL, and time-resolved florescence spectroscopy.

24

SJB-B

Prof. Subi J. George

NCU

Synthesis and Characterization of Bio-inspired Supermolecular Polymers.

Synthetic supramolecular polymers, inspired by biological systems, are the result of the directional organization of small monomeric units via reversible non-covalent interactions, which possess dynamic and adaptive behaviour. However, unlike the biological systems, the precise structural control in supramolecular polymers, which is the key to control the material properties is yet to be realized. The present project aims to achieve a general design strategy for structural and temporal control over synthetic supramolecular polymers via controlling the growth kinetics enzymatically. Details of this research filed can be found in our recent publications in this field (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-08308-9 and https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-03542-z). The students in this project will be trained in the research areas of Organic synthesis, Supramolecular Chemistry, Chemical Biology and various spectroscopic (UV, PL and CD) and microscopic techniques.

25

SSA-A

Dr. Sarit S. Agasti

NCU

Super-Resolution Fluorescence Imaging.

Fluorescence microscopy is a powerful tool for exploring molecules in biological system.Specifically the invention of super-resolution microscopy techniques enabled visualization of molecules beyond the diffraction limit of light. However, currently available techniques are either difficult to implement or require expensive instrumentation. We are interested in developing new super-resolution imaging strategies based on chemical probes (for example, DNA) that are easy to implement and provide high multiplexing capability. This project will deal with single molecule image acquisition and subsequent development of image processing algorithm.

26

SSA-B

Dr. Sarit S. Agasti

NCU

Selective Chemical Reactions in Living System.

Performing selective chemistries in biological systems such as in cells or in living organisms is a challenging but highly functional objective. The ability to chemically conjugate functional groups such as fluorochromes and affinity tags in a site-specific manner would allow a wide variety of biomolecules to be specifically labelled and imaged in their native cellular environment, providing an alternative to genetically encoded fluorescent protein based method.This project will be oriented towards developing new synthetic chemistry concepts for labelling and tracking specific biomolecules as they function in vivo. We will be designing these strategies based on bioorthogonal reactions; broadly refer to the chemical reactions that can be performed in living systems without interference from the biological milieu.

27 SR-A Dr.Sridhar Rajaram NCU

Synthesis of Indoxyl Derivatives for use in the Preparation of Lead Molecules to Treat Parkinson's Disease.

Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a neurodegenrative disorder that results in loss of motor control. The formation α-synuclein aggregates is known to be the cause of one type of PD. Autophagic clearance of these aggregates is one potential pathway for treating PD. In a collaborative effort with Prof. Ravi Manjithaya's group, we will evaluate indoxyl derived molecules as lead molecules for treating PD, The project will involve synthesis of indoxyl derivatives followed by their conversion to a set of lead molecules.

28

NSV-A

Prof. N.S. Vidhyadhiraja

TSU

Exploring Hubbard clusters using exact diagonalization methods.

We have been working on developing a Green's function based method for combining with density functional theory based methods to investigate strongly correlated electronic materials from first principles. In this context, one of the aspects of such a method involves the use of exact diagonalization for evaluating the exact Green's function of few-atom multi-orbital clusters with electron-electron interactions. The student will be working on developing such a method.

29

KJ-A

Prof. Kavita Jain

TSU

Nonequlibrium dynamics of the Ising model under slow quench.

While a large number of studies have focused on the nonequilibrium dynamics of a system when it is quenched rapidly from a disordered to an ordered phase, such dynamics have not been well studied when the system is quenched slowly. In a recent work, we obtained several analytical results for the slow quench dynamics in the Glauber Ising chain, and found that the Kibble-Zurek scaling law for the defect density holds. I propose to extend this study to Kawasaki Ising chain where the Kibble-Zurek predictions are expected to break down. The goal of this project is to obtain the new scaling laws and the scaling functions analytically and using numerical simulations.