High temperature materials Materials with very low thermal conductivity and ability to withstand very high temperatures are very important in thermal protection systems in aerospace applications. Carbon and ceramics having high temperature capability need to be processed into highly porous structures to achieve light weight and high thermal insulation. The research at IIST focuses on the development of novel methods for processing of carbon and ceramic foams. We also undertake research on colloidal processing of ceramic powder for fabrication of near-net shape ceramic components (Faculty: K Prabhakaran )
Sensors Rapid identification and quantification of toxic metals have environmental and biomedical significances. Usual methods for analysis demand pretreatment strategies and complicated instrumentation techniques. Design and development of low cost sensors with high sensitivity and selectivity for environmental pollutants and explosives based on optical/electrochemical/spectroscopic methods is our interest.
Nanomaterial based chemical sensors are being developed for selective and sensitive detection of explosives, toxic metal ions, toxic gases, pesticides and hazardous industrial chemicals. We aim to develop analytical methods such as fluorescence, Foster resonance energy transfer (FRET) and surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) for the purpose.
Research in sensors also focuses on development of colorimetric sensors based on gold nanoparticles for clinically relevant marker molecules such as fructose, creatinine and E.Coli.
Gold nanoparticles (GNPs) with diameter 1-100 nm have been chosen for the development of sensors on account of its high surface to volume ratio and high surface energy.
Development of atomically precise clusters called quantum clusters or nanomolecules for biosensors are also undertaken. Clusters are composed of a group of atoms and are also known as nanoclusters. Nanoclusters are considered to be the bridge between atoms/molecules and nanoparticles. These have been used for diverse applications ranging from luminescent labels to various chemical and biosensors. (Faculty: Jobin Cyriac, Mary Gladis, Kuruvilla Joseph )
Energy storage materials Energy and environment are two of the major issues of the modern world. Cheaper and cleaner energy from renewable sources is a solution for these. In this regard, viable materials for solar energy conversion is a key area of research focus. Our research focuses on materials based on titanium oxide (TiO2) for photoconversion applications. Currently, we work on TiO2-nanolayered material composites for photocatalysis and plan to work on photoconversion applications. Another area of focus is functional nanomaterials for energy and environmental applications such as CO2 adsorption, lithium battery, pollutant removal etc.
Electrochemical energy storage and conversion with high efficiency and cleanliness is unquestionably one challenge for the sustainable development of the society. Functional materials can be applied in the systems of electrochemical energy storage and conversion such as in the fields of batteries and fuel cells. For the aspect of energy storage, high efficiency is closely related to light weight and high energy density of the materials. Electrode materials for batteries must have proper architechture and nanostructure to facilitate fast charge transfer across the interfaces and rapid transport of reactants to active sites for electrode reactions. Thus, we focus on the design of electrode materials based on carbon -metal and carbon-polymer composites for the creation of a new generation lithium sulphur batteries with performance better than those of the existing ones. (Faculty: Sandhya K. Y., Mary Gladis )
Nanostructured materials assume great importance in tissue engineering and drug delivery applications. We work on development of nanofibrous scaffolds based on natural polymers for medical applications such tissue engineering and wound dressing materials.
Polymeric drug conjugates, nanogels and polyelectrolyte complexes are being developed and explored for effective delivery of hydrophobic drugs.
Computational design and development of theranostic agents Our group focuses on the design of molecules for customized applications followed by their chemical synthesis using organic reactions and testing. Currently, molecular systems are being developed for medical applications with a special emphasis on theranostic applications.
Combinatorial chemistry, drug discovery and drug delivery The principles, tools and techniques of combinatorial chemistry are being explored by our group to develop novel molecular entities centred around heterocyclic cores to enhance molecular diversity. The libraries are initially screened using docking studies employing cancer biomarkers and promising systems are chemically synthesized and tested for anticancer activities followed by protein binding studies. For targeted drug delivery, we currently employ dendrimers.
Self assembled molecular architectures Self-assembly of molecules into well-defined nanostructures with controlled size, morphology and optical properties is a challenging task in the “bottom-up” construction of supramolecular architectures. Herein our department, we are focusing on the development of self-assembled molecular architectures from bioresources and controlling the self–assembly via concerted action of noncovalent interactions. These self-assembled architectures have potential uses in molecular devices, stimuli responsive materials, solar cells etc.
Research is also on to analyse single crystals of molecular systems and try to understand their self assembly and interactions in an effort to design novel supramolecular synthons. Research on designed organic crystals as hosts for various guest molecules is also underway. (Faculty: Mahesh S, Sreejalekshmi, K. G. )
Nanocomposites for structural applications Development of high strength toughened epoxy nanocomposite by interphase modification of nanofiller and polymer matrix is under progress. Chemical modification has been carried out on the surface of carbon nanotube and graphene oxide to improve mechanical properties of epoxy composite system.
Tuning of surface properties of nanomaterials is required to overcome the inherent limitations of nanomaterials. Plasma surface modification, an eco friendly dry method, is used for the surface functionalization of carbon based nanomaterials like carbon nanotube, graphene, and carbon based hybrid nanomaterials. Potential applications of plasma functionalized nanomaterials in the areas of nanocomposite and as working electrode in electrochemical sensor are being explored.