The Department of Physics is organising a Faculty Development Program on ‘Scope for Sponsored Projects and its Implementation’ with eminent academicians, Prof Sathish Vadhiyar, Chair, Supercomputer Education and Research Centre, IISc Bangalore and Prof Kothandaraman Ramanujam, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

Date: May 11, 2022

Time: 10.00 am

Venue: ALC 3rd Floor

Discussing the scopes and challenges of such sponsored projects is inevitable as it determines the progress in its execution. Documenting a list of the project goals, deliverables, tasks, costs and deadlines is, therefore, an important part of this process. This will help in establishing the objectives of the project, analysing its limits, and providing a roadmap to move ahead.

Prof Sathish Vadhiyar will deliver a talk on the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) Program which was introduced by the government of India with an aim to connect national academic and R&D institutions with a grid of high-performance computing facilities. This is an effort to improve the number of supercomputers owned by India. Prof Kothandaraman Ramanujam will provide a brief awareness regarding consultancy projects set up with the industry through his talk. The session will be wrapped up by Prof Paromita Chakraborty who will give an overview of funded projects and bilateral projects.

Join here for an informative session.

B S Murty

SRM University-AP organised an interactive session with Prof B S Murty, Director, IIT Hyderabad, on May 7, 2022, to enhance the research collaborations and capabilities of the institution. Honourable Vice-Chancellor, Prof V S Rao; Pro Vice-Chancellor, Prof D Narayana Rao, all the faculty members, and research scholars took part in the conference.

The meeting deliberated on the need to develop platforms for effective research collaborations across multiple disciplines to maintain successful research careers. It accentuated on the necessity of bringing together inter-disciplinary resources, culture, talent, and scientific knowledge to enhance the depth and breadth of research capabilities. Building intensive research networks and making relevant contributions towards the inclusive development of the society were the major focus points of the discussion.

Prof V S Rao welcomed the gathering and introduced the guest of the day, Prof B S Murty. He reminisced over the long association with Prof Murty, the much renowned Indian metallurgist who has been recognised with the highest science award in the country.

Prof B S Murty put forward the need for bringing multidisciplinarity into the engineering course framework. According to him, the cross-pollination of ideas across the disciplines of technology, medicine, and environmental management is the ideal way to encourage inclusive development in society. He mentioned a few such pioneering programmes such as M.Tech in Medical Device Innovation and E-Waste Management, B.Tech in Computational Engineering and Microelectronics introduced in IIT Hyderabad. He concluded the session by emphasising the vitality of accelerating research across the healthcare sector as well as the need for orienting research in tune with the industrial demands.

Prof D Narayana Rao gave a brief overview of the research culture nurtured in the university. He presented the list of research publications, patent publications and various other accomplishments of the university’s faculty and students. He also gave a brief introduction to the various centres of excellence established at the university. By giving an outlay of the initiatives such as research collaborations with AIIMS Mangalagiri, SVMC Tirupati, and multiple other programmes like the University Distinguished Lecture Series, he shed light on the steps taken by the institution to promote research and development activities across the region. Prof Narayana Rao solicited collaboration with IIT Hyderabad, particularly in the areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI), additive manufacturing of bio-implants, and battery electrodes for Li-ion batteries.

green urea synthesis

Prof Ranjit Thapa and his PhD scholar, Mr Samadhan Kapse from the Department of Physics have reported their euphoric achievement of discovering an economically viable electrocatalyst for effective green urea synthesis. The paper “Selective Electrocatalytic Co-reduction of N2 and CO2 on Copper Phthalocyanine for Green Urea Production” has been published in the highly prestigious Nature indexed journal, ‘Advanced Functional Materials’, having an Impact Factor of 18.81. It was published in collaboration with Jit Mukherjee, and Uttam Kumar Ghorai, from the Department of Industrial Chemistry & Applied Chemistry, Swami Vivekananda Research Centre.

With global annual production of 100 million tons, urea is one of the important nitrogen sources for the fertilizer industry. Industrial urea is synthesized by the following two consecutive steps. First, the reaction of nitrogen and hydrogen (N2 + H2 → NH3) by the Haber-Bosch process at high temperature and pressure (350–550°C, 150–350 bar); followed by the reaction of NH3 and CO2 [NH3 + CO2 → CO(NH2)2] under mild reaction conditions (170–200°C and 200–250 bar). The sequential reactions are carried out for several cycles to increase the conversion efficiency. For the first step, fixation of N2 is an energy as well as a capital intensive process due to difficulty in cleaving the N≡N bond. Extensive research works have been reported on electrochemical N2 fixation to NH3 in water medium under ambient conditions. In this electrochemical method, isolation of NH3 gas with high purity from electrolyte solution is troublesome. In the second step, CO2 fixation on the substrate and its separation is one of the major challenging tasks for the further reaction with NH3 to end up in urea formation. Overall, the two-step process for large scale production of urea consumes high energy and produces greenhouse gases for the environment.

The research team reported copper-phthalocyanine nanotubes (CuPc NTs) having multiple active sites as an efficient electrocatalyst which exhibits a tremendous yield of urea with good durability and long-term stability. DFT calculation predicts that Pyridinic–N1 in CuPc is responsible for N2 reduction and the metal centre plays an important role for CO2 reduction. This study not only provides us with the co-reduction of N2 and CO2 gases using cost-effective CuPc NTs catalyst but also opens a new pathway to the rational design of other transitional metal-based electrocatalysts having multiple active sites for N2 and CO2 gas fixation applications.

This electrochemical method of urea synthesis by the co-reduction of N2 and CO2 [N2 + CO2 + 6H+ + 6e– → CO(NH2)2 + H2O] using an efficient electrocatalyst in a water medium under ambient conditions would be an alternative way in the upcoming days. All the strategies using alloys and heterostructure for urea synthesis forming C–N bond by the co–reduction of N2 and CO2 have not reached the benchmark in terms of urea yield rate and FE for practical applications. To achieve a high urea yield and FE, various factors are to be considered in this work.

Abstract of the Research

Green synthesis of urea under ambient conditions by electrochemical co-reduction of N2 and CO2 gases using effective electrocatalyst essentially pushes the conventional two steps (N2 + H2 = NH3 & NH3 + CO2 = CO (NH2)2) industrial process at high temperature and high pressure, to the brink. The single-step electrochemical green urea synthesis process has hit a roadblock due to the lack of an efficient and economically viable electrocatalyst with multiple active sites for dual reduction of N2 and CO2 gas molecules to urea. Herein, the research reports copper-phthalocyanine nanotubes (CuPc NTs) having multiple active sites (such as metal centre, Pyrrolic-N3, Pyrrolic-N2, and Pyridinic-N1) as an efficient electrocatalyst which exhibits urea yield of 143.47 µg h-1 mg-1cat and FE of 12.99% at –0.6 V vs RHE by co-reduction of N2 and CO2. Theoretical calculation suggests that Pyridinic-N1 and Cu centres are responsible to form C–N bonds for urea by co-reduction of N2 to NN* and CO2 to *CO respectively. This study provides new mechanistic insight into the successful electro-reduction of dual gases (N2 and CO2) in a single molecule as well as the rational design of an efficient noble metal-free electrocatalyst for the synthesis of green urea.

Chapter PublicationDeaf and mute people have used sign language to communicate their thoughts and feelings for a long time. Since there is no universal sign language, the needy people use country-specific sign languages. An automated sign language recognition system is a universal solution to this impediment. Dr Manikandan V M, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science Engineering, and his student, Ms Bhavana Siddineni, have been working in this regard to ease the communication technology. They have published a chapter in the book, ‘Challenges and Applications for Hand Gesture Recognition’. The book is published by IGI Global Publishers, a leading international academic publisher. The chapter is titled “Recent Advancements in Design and Implementation of Automated Sign Language Recognition Systems”.

Sign language systems in practice are invariably specific to a territory. For example, American Sign Language (ASL) is popularly used by Americans, and Indian Sign Language (ISL) is commonly practised in India. Communication between two people who know the specific sign language is relatively easy. But, if a mute person wants to communicate with another person who is not familiar with sign language, it is a difficult task, and a sign language interpreter is required to translate the signs. This issue motivated the computer scientist to work on automated sign language recognition systems capable of recognizing the signs from specific sign languages and converting them into text information or audio so that the common people can understand them easily.

Through the proposal put forward in the publication, our researchers are planning to design and implement a reliable Automated Sign Language Recognition system in the future. This book chapter will be a useful reference for students who wish to start their research work in the domain of Automated Sign Language Recognition.


faculty development

The Department of Physics organised a Faculty Development Programme discussing the scopes of implementing sponsored projects. Renowned academicians, Prof Sathish Vadhiyar, IISc Bangalore; Prof Kothandaraman Ramanujam, IIT Madras; and Prof Paromita Chakraborty, SRMIST were the keynote speakers of the session. They shared their views and enlightened the faculty on the scopes and challenges in implementing projects proposed across various disciplines.

Prof V S Rao, Vice-Chancellor SRM-AP, welcomed the gathering. He appreciated the department’s effort in organising programmes on such impactful topics. Reminding the community of the inevitability of emphasising research, he congratulated all the faculty for their influential publications, sponsored projects, patent publications, etc. Prof D Narayana Rao, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, also addressed the gathering and reiterated the need to conduct such crucial discussions among administrators and policymakers. He further highlighted the importance of reorienting the vision of every Indian university by giving a special focus on research and development.

faculty development programme

Prof Sathish Vadhiyar commenced the discussion by providing a brief overview of the National Super Computing Mission (NSM). It is one of the principal ventures funded by DST and MeItY to advance the overall high-performance computing ecosystem. He deliberated on the R&D projects involved in NSM, its objectives, proposal areas, budget, research allocations etc. Prof Ramanujam presided over and shared his experience in collaborating with industries to market the research product. He gave a detailed analysis of the functioning of consultation companies, types of consultancies, stages involved in such projects, and the different ways to attract funding. Prof Paromita Chakraborty was the last speaker of the day. She offered an elaborate outline for designing and developing a project proposal and concluded by imparting a few insights from her successful projects.


yoga series

The Department of Students Affairs is organising a series of events heralding the arrival of International Yoga Day 2022. As part of the series, the second episode of the yoga celebrations will be held to exude the essence of yoga amongst the student community.

Date: May 16, 2022

Time: 4.30 pm

Venue: Near Fountains

Yoga is often perceived as a spiritual endeavour taking one closer to the universal power. But the core of yoga lies in unlocking one’s true potential and discovering the inherent powers that reside deep within each individual. Making yoga an inevitable part of our daily life will bring unbelievable transformations in every aspect of our behaviour. It will enable us to look at the brighter side of things, discover the possibilities in every obstacle, and radiate joy and prosperity around ourselves.

Join the session to embark on an exhilarating journey of self-exploration.

air filter mechanism

Studies and research on air pollution have sparked worldwide interest in the recent decades to overcome the imminent threat of air pollution. The air filtration mechanism is one of the efficient ways to capture particulate matter (PM) and purify the air. An innovatory air filtration mechanism blending polyacrylonitrile (PAN)/polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) polymer nanofibers has been proposed by Prof Ranjit Thapa and his PhD scholar Deepak S Gavali from the Department of Physics.

The paper “Low Basis Weight Polyacrylonitrile/Polyvinylpyrrolidone Blended Nanofiber Membranes for Efficient Particulate Matter Capture” was published in collaboration with Applied NanoPhysics Laboratory, Department of Physics and Nanotechnology, SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Kattankulathur. It was featured in the journal ‘ACS Applied Polymer Materials’ having an Impact Factor of 4.09.

In the twenty-first century, air pollution is a major problem facing human and environmental health. Every year, millions of people die, mostly in developing nations, owing to the aggravating level of air pollution. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 92 per cent of the people live in places where the air quality level has crossed the WHO limits. Particulate matter (PM) (solid or liquid particles with different aerodynamic diameters), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), and others are the relevant air contaminants.

In low-income cities, the effect of PM 2.5 pollution is high due to high urban air pollution. Even at very low concentrations, PM 2.5 (particles with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 µm) pollution has health consequences. Air filtration is one of the best remedies to tackle such problems and maintain a clean environment for humans. Among the available air filter materials, fiber-based air filters have proven to be the most potentially effective treatment, due to their high porosity, high surface area, lightweight, etc.

This study relies on a careful design that blends PAN and PVP fibers. The resultant nanofiber material is utilized to overcome the low air pressure resistance issue with high filtration efficiency. Large-scale free-standing nanofibers were obtained by a simple peeling-off process. The morphology, chemical interaction between the filter media and PM pollutant; and filtration properties were investigated. Compared to commercial mask, the semi- high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter media, PAN/PVP filter medium showed superior performance in PM 2.5 filtration. Furthermore, the intermolecular interactions between PMs and nanofibers were analyzed by DFT calculations. With constant optimization of synthesis conditions, the synthesized air filters achieved high filtration efficiency for PM removal and showed great potential for practical application.

Abstract of the Research

Particulate matter (PM) in air frequently poses a serious threat to human health. Smaller PM can easily enter into the alveolus and blood vessels with airflow. This work reports the first polyacrylonitrile (PAN)/polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) polymer blend nanofiber filter media for effectively capturing PM. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations are used to investigate the effect of the blending of two polymers on the dipole moment and the electrostatic potential. Based on the DFT calculations of the intermolecular interactions between nanofibers and PM, the PAN/PVP heteromolecular percentage is considered for experimental synthesis, which can provide better performance in the filtration of pollutants. The composite PAN/PVP fiber network was successfully developed and optimized to cope with complex environments during the actual filtration process. The role of the blending ratio of PAN and PVP in wt % was explored on PM 2.5 capture, and the refined ratio overcame the conflict between high filtration efficiency and low air pressure resistance. The air filter medium PAN/PVP (6:2) possesses an extremely high air filtration efficiency of 92% under a very low pressure drop of 18 Pa for a 0.5 g m–2 basis weight. Both polar and nonpolar functional groups in blend nanofibers promoted significantly the electrostatic attraction and improved the filtration efficiency under static and dynamic airflow. The PAN/PVP nanofiber membranes maintain outstanding air filtration under different temperature and humidity conditions. This study will shed light on the fabrication of high-efficiency low-basis weight nanofiber filter media as an end product.

fan bladeBird strikes are a crucial phenomenon that should be taken into consideration while designing aircraft. Bird strikes have been reported since the early days of flight causing fatal disasters. It is estimated that around 300 people were killed, and several aircraft were destroyed because of bird strikes. A great deal of research has been conducted to tweak the design of aircraft to bring down the impact of bird strikes. Prof Prakash Jadhav and his PhD scholar Gruhalakshmi Yella from the Department of Mechanical Engineering have published a paper offering an appropriate solution in this regard.

Their paper titled “Hybrid joint interface in composite fan blade subjected to bird strike loading” has been published in the international journal, ‘Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part C: Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science’ having an impact factor of 1.76. The research puts forward an ideal solution to alter the design of the aircraft fan blades which are frequently being subjected to such collisions. The duo proposes a hybrid joint interface using two fibres instead of a single fibre.

Some delamination failures observed in the trailing edge of the blades could probably increase the effect of such bird strikes. For rectifying the delamination problem, the proposed solution is to use a material with higher strain capability such as glass fibres in the areas on the fan blade which are prone to delamination, while maintaining carbon material on the remaining blade. The concept is proved by first performing a static analysis on 3D FEA coupons with an in-built hybrid interface joint and next by performing a dynamic bird strike analysis on 3D FEA coupons and sub-element models with an in-built hybrid interface.

Abstract of the Research

Fan blades are one of the most important components of an aircraft engine. Bird strikes on fan blades have always been a cause of worry and it can cause slices of birds to hit other parts of the engine which may lead to greater damage. Bird strikes cannot be completely avoided. Although current composite blades can withstand the bird strike impact, some delamination failures are still observed on the trailing edge side of the blade, possibly due to vibration bending modes. This paper talks about using two fibres in a composite blade instead of the current single fibre one. For this to be feasible, two fibre joints at various locations on the blade must be properly designed. The design criteria used here is the lowest inter-laminar shear strain level at critical joint locations.

SIRE 2022-23

SERB International Research Experience (SIRE) is a coveted opportunity for passionate researchers to collaborate with leading institutions across the globe for high-end research training in frontier areas of Science and Technology. Dr Raviteja from the Department of Civil Engineering has earned this opportunity through his resourceful project titled “Sustainable Ash based Geosynthetic Clay Liners for MSW Landfills”. The work proposes a sustainable design of solid waste landfill liners using industrial by-products like fly ash.

Municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills need to be lined at the bottom to avoid contaminant transport. The conveyance of noxious pollutants from the landfill to the natural ground can be restricted using natural or synthetic barriers. In general, natural materials like clays/bentonites in combination with geomembranes (GMB) are used in liners. However, to increase the strength properties and reduce the compressibility characteristics, bentonites are often mixed with sand. With the increased cost and scarcity of sand, there is a renewed interest among the researchers to identify an alternative material to replace sand proportion in compacted GCLs in MSW landfills. Among several materials, fly ash is proved to be a potential substitute for sand in landfill liners.

This experience will serve as an excellent opportunity to work at one of the world-renowned, state-of-the-art geoenvironmental laboratories at the University of Illinois Chicago. “I feel fortunate to collaborate with Prof. Krishna Reddy, one of the eminent researchers in the geoenvironmental research fraternity. My research at UIC would be on developing sustainable ash-based geosynthetic clay liners for MSW landfills. I also wish to pursue recent advances in this area and identify a framework for my future research”, said Dr Raviteja. The project will help him establish strong research collaborations with experts in the geotechnical labs at other US universities. He can also make field visits to identify the practical problems and direct his research toward the real-field applicability.

With an enriching research exposure at UIC, he will be able to formulate innovative and advanced research problems to enhance the visibility and applicability of his project. Presenting this work at various conferences and seminars will also attract various potential collaborations and MoU with other universities abroad. According to him, “this is a less explored domain that will immensely benefit research scholars and undergraduate students to invent new possibilities and scopes in the future”.

solar bicycle

Student innovations that render hope and reassurance to an ever-changing society with booming demands indeed call for sweeping appreciation and recognition. We are elated to present the story of one of our budding masterminds who has brought us laurels through his trailblazing invention. Our first-year Mechanical Engineering student, Venkata Sree Harsha has developed the prototype of a solar electric bicycle with iconic features. This is a well-timed invention presented in the face of exacerbating pollution and energy insufficiency.

There have been endless studies and research going on to discover alternate solutions to bring down the imprudent use of conventional sources of energy. We are running out of our resources on one hand, and they are causing irreversible damage to the environment on the other hand. Tapping the invaluable potential of solar energy is the ideal way to welcome a new era of renewable energy resources. Solar inventions are therefore encouraged and put to implementation. This is believed to expedite the use of such renewable resources.

Venkata Sree Harsha’s solar-powered bicycle can run for unlimited distance in sunlight and for 2 hours at night when fully charged. It is fitted with a 24 Volt, 350-Watt DC motor, two 12 Volt batteries, two 6-Watt solar panels, and other components. The rechargeable batteries are attached to a 36 Volt motor, and it is connected in a series fashion. The solar power panels are fastened to the rear end of the vehicle which actively charges the bicycle while it is running on the sun. The total investment for this environment-friendly solar bicycle came approximately to rupees 15,000. This is a fruitful innovation when the escalating fuel prices are causing hardships in an average Indian household.

The young innovator expressed his delight and contentment over making his tiny share of contribution to the lives of those who are struggling to make ends meet in a world where expenses are soaring high without limits. His passion for science and determination to bring technology to right and productive use are what made this innovation possible. Mr Venkata also thanked his teachers and fellow friends who helped and guided him throughout this rewarding journey.