New Chemistry Unit

The New Chemistry unit has been created by the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research as part of the 11th Five Year Plan. The Unit works on interdisciplinary aspects of chemical science. The most important areas that are actively pursued are at the interface of Chemical Biology, Chemical Science and Materials Science.

Some of the specific areas of research are solid state and materials chemistry, chemistry of metal chalcogenides, organic synthesis, biomaterials, organic and supramolecular chemistry, antimicrobial therapeutics, drug delivery systems, patternable polymers, conducting polymers, super resolution imaging DNA nano technology, semiconducting nanomaterials, renewable energy, multifunctional metal-organic hybrids, medicinal chemistry, chemical neuroscience, theoretical chemistry, carbon and oxide based materials and catalysis. The research projects involve new strategies for the synthesis of solid state materials that addresses the contemporary energy issues and global environmental concerns. Synthesis of a host of nanomaterials including organic and inorganic based zero-,one- and two dimensional materials are carried out with an aim to understand their electronic structure as well as applications in magnetic, optical, opto-electronic and electrical devices. Chemistry of carbon nanostructures constitutes one of the extensively studied systems within the unit. Synthesis of extended designer solids for a range of applications including metal-organic frameworks or porous coordination polymers, are being actively pursued.

Major activities in the renewable energy research in the new chemistry unit include water splitting, fuel cell, CO2 reduction and Li/Na batteries. With the current energy crisis facing the world, more than half of the utilized energy is lost as heat. The unit is involved in the research in thermoelectrics, which can convert waste heat to electricity. Additionally, the unit is involved in developing materials for photovoltaics, lasers and phase change memory devices.

Organic synthesis is an integral part of many research groups which involves the asymmetric synthesis, synthesis of organic materials, polymers etc. Some of the specific areas are organic-inorganic hybrid materials, functional metal-organic frame works for hydrogen storage, catalysis, magnetism and optical properties, polymers and oligomers for solar cells, field effect transistors and organic light emitting diodes, organic functional materials through supramolecular self-assembly, design and synthesis of peptide and protein based materials for biomaterial applications, synthesis of antibacterial agents, developing new drug delivery systems and synthesis of programmable DNA based materials to address challenges in bioimaging, sensing and therapeutics.

The unit has developed various facilities for complete characterization and analysis of various materials pursued here. Along with these specialized facilities established at the unit, it also relies extensively on the general facilities offered at the centre. The unit also actively collaborates with various national and international research centres to obtain access to state of the art facilities like the synchrotron facility.

Microscopic understanding of a number of exotic phenomenon is being carried out by our theoretical group. The unit has developed novel methods to study various phenomena including quantum magnetism, charge transfer and electrical transport phenomena, new carbon systems and cold atom phenomena. The unit has excellent facilities for computational and theoretical studies to complement the experimental research.