PIB News 17th Oct, 2020

(General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management, Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.)

Research by scientists of JNCASR opens up prospects of bio-inspired materials for energy & biotechnology sector
Scientists have developed a synthetic material that mimics the dynamic capability of living organisms to adapt to new environments by utilizing simple natural design principles to create complex networks. The new materials developed opens new avenues for smart materials because of their dynamic and adaptive nature. Hence, they would be useful as recyclable polymers for the energy and biotechnology sector.

Reduction–oxidation (redox) processes are central to many biological functions. Cellular functions like growth, motility, and navigations depend on assembling of biopolymers whose dynamic behavior is linked to a reduction-oxidation (redox) reaction in which enzymes are involved.

Nature synthesizes these biopolymers controlling their size and dispersity to regulate their functions, without which their sophistication and efficacy are affected. Researchers have been trying to mimic such complex structural control based on chemical reaction networks. 

Scientists from the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Science and Research (JNCASR), an autonomous institution of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), have developed a synthetic mimic of such redox-active biological assemblies, with precise structure and dynamics that can be manipulated.

In their recently published work in Nature Communications, Prof. Subi George, a Bhatnagar awardee of 2020, and his group have shown that such bio-inspired structures are formed by assembling transient dormant monomeric molecules (basic units of polymers) by coupling them to a reduction-oxidation reaction network. They form a chemical entity called supramolecular polymers with strikingly dynamic properties. The properties arise because they are connected by non-covalent bonds, which are reversible bonds that hold their chains together. These dynamic properties open up prospects of many new applications of these materials.

The research by the team, which also included KrishnenduJalani, Anjali Devi Das, and Ranjan Sasmal, is a major step towards the goal of chemists to harness blueprints of life to design innovative materials and provide future energy or biotechnology-related solutions.


(General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management, Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.)

Science-Society-Setu webinar series initiated to strengthen S&T capacity of NGOs & Communities
The web clinic will cover four broad sectors, namely: ‘agriculture and allied sectors, MSME & economic sector, social infrastructure, and cross-sectoral areas’
Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, DST Secretary stresses on the need of sustainable development of knowledge ecosystem

DST Secretary Prof. Ashutosh Sharma underlined the need to create knowledge that is relevant for different sections of our society at the Science-Society-Setu for AatmaNirbharBharat (S34ANB), a web clinic series by Science for Equity Empowerment and Development SEED Division, Department of Science and Technology (DST).

“We must have a clear picture about what knowledge we are producing, the relevance of that knowledge, where the creators and takers of that knowledge would come from, the efforts to be made so that this knowledge is consumed and the way through which it will reach the society to empower it,” Prof Sharma said while inaugurating the web clinic series on Thursday.

The discussions under web clinic to reach the unreached through ‘vocal for local approach’ to strengthen the social infrastructure and technology-driven pillars of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ has been organized by DST in partnership with the Office of Principal Scientific Advisor, India Science Technology & Innovation Portal, WWF-India, AGNi, FICCI and HESCO. They will cover four broad sectors, namely: ‘agriculture and allied sectors, MSME & economic sector, social infrastructure, and cross-sectoral areas’.

Prof. Ashutosh Sharma compared knowledge as water flowing in a pipeline and described the role of NGOs as a part of the pipeline with the purpose of disseminating this knowledge and empowering the different sections of the society. In order to have a free flow of knowledge, we must have the last mile connects besides creating new small business opportunities, social entrepreneurship, and empowering the self-help groups.

He further stressed on the need of sustainable development of knowledge ecosystem. “The knowledge ecosystem consists of two parts: invention or knowledge creation and innovation or transforming knowledge into new socio-economic opportunities. For a sustainable knowledge ecosystem it is required these two components flow together creating more master trainers, advancing S& T capacity of NGO’s and communities to make the society more self-reliant.” he pointed out.

Prof. Ashutosh Sharma described Aatmanirbharta as an entire pipeline of knowledge chain to bring the right solutions to people’s problems. It consists of Aatmavishwas, or self-confidence among people, Aatmasammana to reach out to the last person in the society irrespective of cultural differences which can be carried out by the NGOs and SHGs working on the ground and Aatmachintan that will be done through this web clinic in the course of its series.

The web clinic is aimed at bridging the systematic gaps in S&T absorption capacity of the community, enhancing the knowledge capacity and livelihood systems for sustainable development at local level by strengthening the S&T capacity of NGOs and communities involving S&T Knowledge organizations on the lines of ‘vocal for local’ call given by  Prime Minister,” Dr. Debapriya Dutta, Head SEED, DST explained the objective behind the web clinic. Dr. Kinkini Dasgupta Misra, Scientist 'F', Vigyan Prasar highlighted the initiative’s purpose to strengthen the 'Social Infrastructure' and 'Technology Driven System' pillars of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat.

Experts also deliberated on a range of related areas like Dr. K.K. Singh, Head, Agromet Division, IMD on agromet services for farmers with possible collaboration with NGOs, Prof. PBS Bhadoria (Coordinator, Rural Technology Action Group), IIT, Kharagpur on rural technologies from RuTAG and Dr. S. S. Roy, Director, Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC) on satellite remote sensing for Agriculture. A panel discussion on emerging technologies was organized showcasing different technologies like IoT for water conservation, satellite technology for agriculture supply chain, and automation for small scale agriculture.


(General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management, Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.)

Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar awardee’s demystification of transformation of glass to crystal can help dispose liquid nuclear waste safely
Glass is a non-crystalline, often transparent amorphous solid which is mostly formed by rapid cooling of its molten form. However, under certain conditions, during its formation, molten glass may rebel and transform to a crystal - the more stable state, an avoidable process called devitrification.

However, the process of devitrification remains poorly understood as this process can be extremely slow, and this makes it difficult to study it. Scientists have now visualized devitrification in an experiment, thus taking a step closer to understanding it. This could help avoid devitrification in processes of pharma industries – a sector in which dodging this is of paramount importance. This is because an amorphous drug dissolves faster than after devitrification,and ensuring that it remains amorphous is therefore essential during storage.

A team of researchers led by Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize recipient in Physical Sciences (2020) category Prof. Rajesh Ganapathy from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of Indiain collaboration with Prof. Ajay Sood (IISC) and their graduate student Ms. DivyaGanapathi (IISC) observed glass made of colloidal particles and monitored their dynamics over several days.

Using real-time monitoring of the particles with an optical microscope and machine learning methods to determine subtle structural features hidden in the glass, they identified a parameter called ‘softness’, which determines the extent of devitrification. They found that regions in the glass which had particle clusters with large "softness" values were the ones that crystallized and that "softness" was also sensitive to the crystallization route. 

The authors fed their machine learning model pictures a colloidal glass, and the model accurately predicted the regions that crystallized days in advance. The authors suggest that techniques to tune "softness" by introducing impurities may help realize long-lived glass states, which has numerous technological applications. The research published in the journal Nature Physics can also help in vitrification of liquid nuclear waste as a solid in a glass matrix to safely dispose it deep underground and prevent hazardous materials from leaking into the environment.




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