Department of Economics, SRM University-AP organised the International Conclave on “Transition towards sustainability of Agriculture: Role of Technology in Agriculture Supply Chain” on June 3-4th, 2021. Prof Vijay Paul Sharma, Chairman, Commission for Agriculture Costs and Price (CACP), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer Welfare, GoI, India, was the chief guest of the event. The tope agricultural economist from India and abroad from the reputed institutions, i.e., Arizona State University, USA; Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University, Bangladesh; ICAR-NIAP; IFPRI South Asia Office Delhi; JNU, IIMA, IIMB, IGIDR Mumbai, Delhi School of Economics; Institute of Economic Growth; Symbiosis School of Economics, Pune; Central University of Punjab; Central University of Jammu; Sharda University, Noida; Amity University, Noida; PAU, Ludhiana; AN Sinha Institute of Social Sciences, Patna; Centre for Development Studies; Thrivanthapuram delivered lectures and participated in Panel Discussions in the two-day event.

The event started with the welcome address of Dr Ghanshyam Pandey, Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of Economics and the opening remarks were delivered by Prof V S Rao, Vice-Chancellor, SRM University-AP.

“The agriculture and food sector are facing multiple challenges. With the global population projected to grow from 7.6 billion in 2018 to over 9.6 billion in 2050, there will be a significant increase in the demand for food. At the same time, the availability of natural resources such as fresh water and productive arable land is becoming increasingly constrained. Production is not the only concern; although agricultural output is currently enough to feed the world, 821 million people still suffer from hunger. Processes such as the rapid rate of urbanisation also have important implications for food production patterns and consumption patterns. This will require an urgent transformation of the current agri-food system. Digital innovations and technologies may be part of the solution. In the agriculture and food sector, the spread of mobile technologies, remote-sensing services, and distributed computing are already improving smallholders’ access to information, inputs, market, finance, and training. Digital technologies are creating new opportunities to integrate smallholders into a digitally-driven agri-food system,” said Prof Rao.

In the first Keynote speech of the conclave Prof Vijay Paul Sharma, Chairman, Commission for Agriculture Costs and Price (CACP), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer Welfare, GoI, India, explained all the aspects of the agriculture sector to achieve sustainable growth. He started with agriculture production shifted from supply-driven to demand-driven, filling the yield gap between the states and moved on to the right kind of government intervention to improve the farmers’ welfare, shortage of labourer and mechanisation, technology, credit infrastructure, public investment, and climate change and variability.

Prof R S Desh Pande, a renowned economist, pointed out that we are at a stagnant point in agriculture, and the sustainability of agriculture would be very challenging. He mentioned that commercialisation (cropping method) and greed are the two major enemies of sustainability. He mentioned that largely we are getting the technology which is cost increasing techniques rather than cost-saving which ultimately leads to the decline of the net income of the farmers from the last two decades.

Advancing into the event, Prof P S Birthal, National Professor, ICAR-NIAP, PUSA Delhi, India, illuminated the audience with his strategic discussion on Agricultural Technologies and Supply Chains for Sustainable Agricultural Development. He discussed that in all revolutions in agriculture and allied activities in India, a common element had been the technology, although it was driven by different agents. He mentioned that technology is a key source for agricultural growth. Investment in research and development has increased but much less than the several developing and developed countries globally. He also mentioned that growth in agricultural markets had not kept pace with growth in agricultural production. Markets are inefficient because of poor infrastructure and communication networks that result in the higher cost of trade to sellers and buyers, along with asymmetric information between them. He has given some suggestions for farmers to benefit from, i.e., doorstep offtake of the produce, access to improve technology, quality inputs, access to credit insurance against market price, and diversification from water-guzzling crops like rice.

Prof Prem Vashistha from Sharda University highlighted the research innovation done by IFCO for liquid urea. A bottle of 5 ml urea is equally effective to one bag of urea, which is economical and reduces the burden of subsidy from the government. He mentioned this kind of revolution we required in all the areas for sustainable agriculture reducing subsidies. He also gave stress on linkages between institutions with the market are very important.

While talking on the role of technologies for sustainable agriculture, Dr Anjani Kumar, a senior fellow from International Food Policy Research Institute, South Asian Office, Delhi, mentioned how research is essential. Dr Kumar indicated that marginal returns to agricultural R&D expenditure are low for high-income states while more for low-income states. His research shows that R&D significantly impacts reducing poverty and inequality. He also mentioned that the seed replacement rate is frequently high in developed states while very low in underdeveloped states.

Almost 20 distinguished panellists and 20 presenters, along with more than 100 participants, attended the event. Dr Ananda Rao Suvvari, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, SRM University-AP, cordially thanked all the speakers and panellists for their efforts to make the conclave a grand success.

Pre-Event Release: https://srmap.edu.in/events/economics-international-conclave-role-technology-sustainable-agricultural-growth/

A profound and astute fourth edition of the Biology Seminar Series on the theme “Dietary Risk Factors for Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) and Dietary Management”, which was held on May 29, 2021, addressed the vital questions on factors contributing to the rise in non-communicable diseases. Dr A Laxmaiah, Director Grade Scientist (Scientist ‘G’- Epidemiology) and HoD, Division of Public Health and Nutrition from ICMR – National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), elucidated on the topic and discussed the role of nutrition in alleviating such risks.

Dr Laxmaiah stated that almost 38% of children in India are stunted and over 21% are wasted, which is a very alarming statistic. He also noted that, according to reports, more than 60% of the country’s population suffers from iron deficiency, as well as other serious vitamin deficiencies. According to him, a 2016 study discovered that almost 5.8 million people die in India each year because of non-communicable ailments. Dr Laxmaiah stated that the rise in NCDs is primarily due to smoking, physical inactivity, harmful alcohol consumption, and unhealthy diet. The poor dietary intake among Indians was identified as an alarming issue and he further highlighted the need for individuals to adhere to a traditional diet rich in vitamins and minerals. The session was aimed to raise community awareness on the risk factors for non-communicable disease and the urgency of taking action to address the growing concern of NCDs.

Upon the completion of the lecture, an interactive discussion session followed with the topic overview, providing participants with an opportunity to ask in-depth questions.

Pre-Event Release: https://srmap.edu.in/events/biology-seminar-series-04/

A webinar aimed to discuss the use of films in particular and visual images in general as sources for the reconstruction of History was organized by the Department of History on May 18, 2021. Films as History; Exploring Historiophoty, the first of the monthly Webinar series on new and exploratory themes in History, dealt with the promises and challenges of Historiophoty as a sub-stream of history. Following Hayden White’s pathbreaking analysis of visual imagery and its location in historiography, historiophoty has emerged as a most promising pathway for historians particularly as we move towards a rapidly digitizing world.

Dr Sebastian Joseph, a Historian and Film Critic and recipient of the State Award for Best work on Film History 2020, and the author of Cochin Forests and British Techno-ecological Imperialism in India addressed the first part of the webinar. He compared the textual and cinematic representations of history through the lens of the Historian Robert Rosenstone, who divided the plot of a film into three parts: beginning, middle, and end. Dr Joseph conveyed his knowledge of history and cinema through six distinct characteristics put forth by Rosenstone.

(i) A distinction was made between textual and cinematic representations of history, with the latter presenting problematic and conceptual history in a narrative format for better comprehension. (ii) Cinematic representations of history resemble personal narratives more than historical narratives. The straightforward narrative representation aims to communicate and establish an immediate connection with the audiences behind the cinema screens. (iii) The storyline narrated in historical cinematic representations must have a satisfactory conclusion. Historical representations of films dramatize, personalize, and emotionalize, whereas textual history critiques the emotional aspects, as they can invalidate the credibility of the sources. (iv) Film adds to the overall emotional experience of viewers by using music, sound effects, dialogue, and so on. Dr Joseph deduced from Rosenstone’s fifth and sixth characteristics that the historical depictions in cinema are fictional and reflect the socioeconomic and political conditions of society. At the end of the session, he postulated that “there is a tale behind every story, and there is no way that we can look at films as secondary sources of history, but as the primary source for history and historical explanations.”

Dr Nandita Banerjee, Associate Professor at Sidho-Kanho-Birsha University, West Bengal delivered the keynote address during the second half of the webinar. Dr Banerjee provided a critical analysis of the evolution of traditional art and visual images into digitised form. Historians observed the live depiction of civil wars, conflicts, and protests through the documentation captured on camera footage. Visual evidence such as photographs and records are authentic sources and history would be incomplete without them. She further added that “Learning from history is never a one-way street, and learning about the present in light of the past entails learning about the past in light of the present. History is the in-depth study of the past and present. Images, according to some world historians, are the established method of remembering the past. Since the dawn of human evolution, the visual image has served as a representation of social memories in art. ” She validated her perspective by citing the German war and the Vietnamese conflict, both of which are visible in world history because of visual and oral footage. Dr Banerjee also discussed the enormous influence visual images on audiences and the place it marks in the worlds of film and history.

The webinar came to an apprising close with a panel discussion followed by a Q&A session.

Pre-Event Release: https://srmap.edu.in/events/films-as-history-exploring-historiophoty/

The Department of Physics, SRM University-AP organized a “One-day National Symposium on High Energy Physics” on Saturday, May 1, 2021. The session was held through online mode in the presence of honourable leaders of the university, faculty members, and attendees from various fields of interest. Prof V S Rao, the Vice-Chancellor, SRM University-AP, welcomed the gathering with a brief overview of the university’s inception and quick progress in the field of research.

Three talks at the pedagogical level were organised for a wider audience, especially for the students of basic sciences and engineering streams. The first speaker, a Padma Shri awardee, Prof Rohini Godbole, who is a theoretical particle physicist at Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru expounded on “Status of Particle Physics: in light of Nobel Prizes of 2013 and 2015”. She talked about the Higgs Boson’s theoretical postulate, for which the Nobel Prize in Physics was granted in 2013. According to studies, it was the final missing element in the Standard Model’s periodic table (SM). Her paper incorporated the experimental finding of the Neutrino Oscillation, as well as many compelling pieces of evidence that led to the 2015 Nobel Prize.

In the afternoon session, the talks were on the burgeoning field of Dark Matter physics and Gravitational-wave astronomy. Prof Basudeb Dasgupta from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai apprised the participants on “The Mystery of Invisible Mass”. The deep understanding and expertise of Prof Dasgupta in the interfaces of particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology with a particular emphasis on dark matter and neutrino physics as a theoretical physicist at the Tata Institue of Fundamental Research (TIFR) enlightened the audience. He stated that the human beings are able to see only 20% of the universe’s celestial objects; the remaining 80% are unseen and are referred to as “dark matter.” In his words, “Billions of years after the Big Bang, all we can see is the cloud’s surface, where the light is scattered.” Prof Basudeb, is a frequent speaker at prestigious international and national conferences and is a youth icon for aspiring physicists and scientists.

The final lecture of the day was delivered by Prof Bala Iyer from International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS), Bengaluru on “The Detection of Gravitational Waves and the Dawn of Multi-messenger Astronomy” at 4.00 pm. Prof Iyer is currently the Simons Visiting Professor at ICTS-TIFR Bangalore and co-PI of the LIGO-India Scientific Collaboration. He coaches and guides young minds interested in astrophysics, cosmology, and fundamental physics. Prof Iyer did a presentation on the discovery of gravitational waves from a binary black hole in 2015, which was a watershed moment and necessitated the launch of a new multi-messenger astronomy with the potential to have a significant impact on astrophysics. “Any relativistic theory of gravity must be consistent with the special relativity principle. Gravity’s effect cannot travel faster than the speed of light. If an item’s gravitational field changes, the changes propagate over space and take a certain amount of time to reach the object “, he added.

The symposium that aimed to discuss the current status of exciting research topics of High Energy Physics concluded with a Q&A session. This has proved that the faculty members and participants were highly inspired and motivated after attending the symposium and listening to the scholars.

Pre-Event Release: https://srmap.edu.in/events/national-symposium-on-high-energy-physics-2021/

Ms Sravani Sanikommu, a vibrant and keen third-year Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE) student from SRM University-AP, has been selected for the prestigious Mentoring of Engineering Students by INAE Fellows Programme by the Governing Council of Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE). She is one amongst 59 brilliant students who have been selected from across the country this year. The objective of this distinguished programme is to mentor outstanding B.E/BTech undergraduates by INAE fellows. Meritorious 3rd /4th year B.E./B. Tech students from recognised Engineering institutions are eligible under the scheme. Candidates must have a minimum of 75% or a CGPA of 7.5 to be considered for this programme. The mentorship program takes place through an online medium.

The Governing Council of the Indian National Academy of Engineers (INAE) designed the mentoring programme to encourage future engineers in the nation to make significant contributions to engineering and technology for holistic solutions. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, online internship is also available. Ms Sravani gets an opportunity to work online in the host institution in the field of power electronics under the able mentorship of INAE Fellow Prof B G Fernandes, Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (https://www.ee.iitb.ac.in/wiki/faculty/bgf) for 2 Months. She extended her gratitude to Dr Tousif Khan N, the Head of the Department, and Prof Sastry V Vedula, a distinguished visiting professor in the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, as well as an INAE fellow, for initiating her into the mentoring programme and providing constant guidance.

Sravani stated that she had complete supervision of faculty members of SRM-AP during the preparation for this two month Mentoring Programme. The extensive research expertise of faculty members aided significantly throughout the selection process among the finest applicants. “I thank everybody who has put efforts into making this happen. SRMAP can provide such amazing opportunities to research in the fields in which students are interested in working. This is made possible through the faculty members who are experienced in the specified fields which helps the students to learn more about the subject and form a substantial idea on how the concepts work. If somebody is keenly interested in research on something they love and are very passionate about it, SRMAP is the right place!!”, said Ms Sravani with overwhelming enthusiasm.

While the maiden batch of the nascent SRM University-AP is ready to set foot for the next venture, the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) proudly announces 100% successful placement for its students. The first-ever placement drive in SRM University-AP began last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, overcoming all the difficulties, the talented engineers of the CSE department found their passion and a job offer according to their will. The brilliant students of CSE bagged envious offers with the highest salary of 50 LPA and an average salary of 8 LPA. 71% of the students are placed with Super Dream and Dream offers, which is highly commendable.

Amid the unprecedented crisis, the hiring process was a difficult task to be performed for both the students and the recruiters. Corporate Relations and Career Services (CR&CS), the placement team of the university, has done an excellent job by conducting the placement drive with passion and dedication. The students were provided with every support they needed during these trying times. During their internships and projects in reputed companies, the students had hands-on experience, industry exposure, and became aware of the expectations of the corporate world. This experience helped the students to prepare for the job interviews. The numerous training sessions arranged by the CR&CS team for core and soft skill development brushed up their knowledge and personality. The mock interviews, sessions with corporate experts also assisted the students in their preparation. The interdisciplinary modernised curriculum provided the students with in-depth knowledge in their domain, strengthening their basic skills.

“Every moment at SRM-AP was so defining. Academics and research, 24×7 student-run Next Tech Lab, Semester Abroad and Entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley, USA and winning Hackathon in Bay area competing with MIT, Stanford and Carnegie Mellon gave us the wide exposure of the real world, which would not have been possible without the continuous support of our faculty and university management. Now, it is time that we start our life in Japan, and we are very much looking forward to the new chapter,” said Rajarshi Mazumder, who has received the highest offer of this season with a pay package of 50 LPA along with his twin Saptarshi. Sri Ritika Katragadda, who has been offered one of the best packages with 29.5 LPA, opined, “The selection process was tough, but with the extensive knowledge we gained in the classroom studies, I cleared it with ease.”

“The support I received from my professors and CR&CS team is unforgettable. I am forever grateful to their guidance, for being able to secure such a good offer,” said Sai Krishna Rohith, who bagged an offer of 20 LPA. “Prof Ragunathan is like a father figure to me. I can reach him anytime without any hesitation, even in case of a smallest doubt. All other faculty members were equally supportive,” asserted Venkata Sai Nikhith Nagamlla. Venkata also received an offer of 29.5 LPA.

Mr Vivekanandan, Assistant Director, Corporate Relations and Career Services, said, “We always looked for the best opportunities for our students. The talent exhibited by the CSE students during the internships, projects, curriculum and extra-curriculum activities naturally drew the best recruiters to SRM University-AP.”

“SRM University-AP has made its name as a reputed tech hub to the recruiters who are searching for the best engineers to recruit. We are certain that in the coming years, the numbers of top offers will further increase, creating a record in the country,” shared Professor Ragunathan, Associate Dean in the School of Engineering and Basic Sciences and Head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

“SRM University-AP is founded with the vision to offer quality engineers, entrepreneurs and professionals to the country. In the First Placement Drive itself, the university has proved its mettle and has become a favourable destination for top recruiters,” said Prof V S Rao, Vice-Chancellor, SRM University-AP.

The SRM University-AP student, P Mohinish Teja from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, brings laurel to the university by bagging the first prize at the Hackathon organised this year on April 16-18th by the Cal Hacks Team, University of California, Berkeley. More than 450 participants signed up for the world’s popular code-fest. Amongst these global participants, Mohinish won the title of “Best Hack” and a prize of $1000 worth of file coins from the sponsoring partner, Protocol Labs.

The idea of the application “Eco gift” is inspired by the Undergraduate Research Oriented Project under the guidance of Dr Ashok Kumar Pradhan, Assistant Professor-CSE and Mr Santosh Bhaskara, doctoral research scholar. Mohinish developed a Waste Management Decentralised Application called “Eco gift” using Blockchain Technology that rewards the users who categorically dump the waste. This application credits crypto tokens into the app users’ wallet. Even though it will not be the traditional currency, it can be used during registration, paying application fees, and payments at the government portals. The reward value increases with time, and the individual receives the token immediately after installing the application.

Mohinish led the team members P Poojitha, P Bharani, and S Mounika into another segment of Hackathon, Civhacks, organised by the Association of Students at the University of California, Berkeley, from April 23-25th where they bagged the “Best Civhacks” title.

The team developed a website application called “Anonymous Hawk” that displays the reported news by keeping the identity of the reporter anonymous for security reasons. The reporters facing life threats for reporting on the sensitive issue can sign up on the application. One can register simply by signing the transaction into the Blockchain. The data uploaded is stored in the Ethereum network and cannot be trifled by humans or software. The free flow of the information can take place by using the application without the fear of being targeted by any influential agents.

“Anonymous Hawk” brought each group member a prize of $500 file coins. The team was granted an opportunity to work further on the project by the sponsoring team, Protocol Labs. Mohinish expressed, “We are at the initial stage of the development of the high-end Decentralised App. In the next stage, we shall work on controlling the spamming of the information using the data and web-mining algorithms.”

The Department of Electronics and Communication at SRM University-AP, Andhra Pradesh, is overjoyed to announce its students’ success in pursuing higher education. Six students from the maiden batch have performed brilliantly and been accepted to prestigious universities in the United States. These students are offered the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in their chosen fields. Four of the six pupils have been accepted to New York University, and the remaining two are admitted to The University of Wisconsin-Madison and Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States of America.

Saifuddin Ahmed, Akhil Aluri, Rohit Sai K, and Abirami Ravishankar have been awarded a handsome annual scholarship from New York University. The host university offered a grant of $10,000, $8000, $8000, and $11000, respectively. Among the four students, Saifuddin, Akhil, Rohit and Abirami, the first three opted for a master’s in Management of Technology and Abirami enrolled in the Department of Electrical Engineering. Agnishwar Paul is selected by Georgia Tech University while B Yogananda took admission in the Master’s-Research Programme at The University of Wisconsin-Madison. Yogananda has received an offer for Teaching Assistantship from University of Wisconsin, Madison and as a part of it, he will also be receiving a Monthly Stipend and full Tuition Fee Wavier.

Students indicated that the in-depth knowledge that they gained during their B. Tech studies made them very confident while applying for higher studies. Agniswar said, “The curriculum that is followed in the university is up-to-date and at par with reputed global universities. It helped me a lot to catch up with the expectations of my preferred university.” Saifuddin added, “I was a bit doubtful at first whether to pursue higher studies after graduation. But the sincere guidance of Dr Sunil Chinnadurai and Higher Connect Club invoked the hunger in me to seek more knowledge.”

Higher Connect Club (HCC) is the university’s dedicated wing to connect all ECE students interested in pursuing Higher Education after they graduate from SRM University – AP. This club is focused on clarifying all the doubts that usually arise in a student’s mind when pursuing higher education and provides required support with all the resources required, guiding in the best possible way.

“My professors helped me to come up with the right strategy to score well in GRE. All of our teachers have international exposures. It helped a lot during our preparations for higher studies,” said Yogananda. Apart from strong grades in undergraduate courses, selection rounds of interviews needed proficiency in work experience and extracurricular activities. “The experience we gained during the Semester Abroad Programme and Capstone Projects added value to the resume, which helped us tremendously to prove our merit,” asserted Abirami.

The Department of ECE is pleased with students’ accomplishments and encourages future batches to emulate them, bringing honour to SRM University-AP, Andhra Pradesh. Prof Siva Sankar Yellampalli, Head of the Department, said, “We are proud of our students. The first batch is about to graduate. We feel saddened to bid them goodbye, but at the same time, it makes me extremely happy to know that they are going to pursue their chosen paths. My best wishes are always with them.”

When the Covid-19 outbreak crippled the world, P Mohan Aditya, a 3rd-year Mechanical Engineering student from SRM University-AP, made an initiative of developing the highly useful face shield made from bio-degradable substances. He named it “Facial Shield 2.0”, as it was an improved version of the ordinary face shields. The innovative features added to it helped him to earn the copyright to his credit. On May 16, 2020, Aditya filed an application on the face shield design under the IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) with Indian Patent Office, located in Kolkata, India. In 2021, a copyright was granted for the” Face Shield for Humans” with a Design Application Number of 329364 – 001.

The face shield 2.0 serves as the outer defence to the mucous membranes (nose, eyes, and mouth) and comes with a transparent visor made of a thin layer of 175-micron reusable plastic and a highly durable headband made of 3-ply corrugated cardboard. The cardboard’s bursting strength is 16kg/sq.cm, which is quite durable yet lightweight. Due to the use of biodegradable materials, the price of a face shield is at an affordable cost of INR 15. The face shield 2.0, made with firm elastic, is adjustable and suitable for all head sizes for comfortable wear without hurting the head.

Shri Adimulapu Suresh, Hon’ble Minister of Education, Andhra Pradesh and Sri Nandigama Suresh, Hon’ble MP, appreciated the student’s efforts in the Secretariat’s premises. Aditya received high accolades from the guests present on his first successful invention. They also distributed face shields among state police officers, paramedics and other frontline workers deployed in the containment areas.

In a conversation with P Mohan Aditya, he says, “With an increasing environmental degradation, we should move to the eco-friendly alternatives to develop products/services. Therefore, I thought to develop face shields from reusable plastic and cardboard, which are easily degradable. After discovering a shortage in the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) globally, the idea struck my mind. Immediately I started researching on developing a piece of standard equipment to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. I am thankful to Mr Ravi, the attorney at SRM-AP, who supported me throughout the tough times by answering all doubts amidst challenging circumstances.”

Aditya’s invention turned out to be a successful project both for the University and the public. The leadership team of SRM University-AP – Dr P Sathyanarayanan, President, Prof V S Rao, Vice-Chancellor, and Prof D Narayana Rao, Pro-Vice-Chancellor expressed their happiness on Aditya’s success by congratulating him on developing the face shield and making use of eco-friendly technology.

Using the CAD software, Aditya designed the transparent visor of the face shield and fabricated the remaining headband with the CNC machine. The CAD model was used as the input to the CNC machine, Following the design, the CNC machine analysed and cut the cardboard and transparent sheet accordingly.

P Mohan Aditya’s another innovative design on “building block for bed” was applied for a copyright on 09-08-2020. The building block for bed is again an innovative work of making beds using reusable materials for COVID 19 patients. He and his team also successfully created an electric bicycle using a 24V 250Watt DC motor powered by a 12V and 12Ah battery as a team assignment. Aditya desires to be a successful engineer and creator of such inventions for the betterment of society.

Professor Ranjit Thapa, Head of the Department of Physics, has recently published a paper “Unveiling the Genesis of the High Catalytic Activity in Nickel Phthalocyanine for Electrochemical Ammonia Synthesis” in the renowned Journal of Materials Chemistry A, Royal Society of Chemistry (Impact Factor: 11.301). The work has been done in collaboration with the Department of Industrial Chemistry & Applied Chemistry, Swami Vivekananda Research Centre, Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira, Belur Math, Howrah; Rubber Technology Centre, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur; and Atomic & Molecular Physics Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, India.

The slow kinetics of N2 adsorption, splitting of the strong N≡N bond are the challenges for the electrocatalytic nitrogen reduction reaction (NRR) process. In the electrocatalytic NRR process, the fast reaction kinetics of hydrogen evolution reaction is the greatest obstacle. To solve these challenges, the search for various types of catalysts is on a roll. Also, identifying active sites responsible for the origin of catalytic activity in transition metal phthalocyanine is difficult due to its complex structure. Herein, density functional theory (DFT) has been applied to identify the probable active sites of nickel phthalocyanine (NiPc) in NRR as well as the origin of catalytic activity, which is associated with d band centre and density of states (DOS) of Ni in NiPc. Accordingly, the NiPc nanorods (NRs) were synthesised by the solvothermal method on a large scale and the chemically prepared NiPc NRs exhibit the NH3 yield rate of about 85 μg h-1mgcat-1.

In 2019, the global production capacity of ammonia was 235 million metric tons which will increase to 290 million metric tons by 2030. This emphasis on ammonia is due to its application in broad and diverse fields, such as fertilisers, textiles, pharmaceutical, and carbon-free energy carriers. The Haber-Bosch process is used to synthesise ammonia (NH3) from N2 and H2 using Fe based catalyst. However, the process emits carbon dioxide (CO2) (1.5 tons of CO2/tons of NH3 production) and requires high pressure and temperature and consumes around 2% of the global energy supply. Electrocatalytic N2 fixation (N2 + 6H+ + 6e− → 2NH3) showed great potential due to the possible use of atmospheric nitrogen and hydrogen derived from water through electrolysis and in mild conditions.

In their future endeavours, Prof Thapa and his research group will design different types of such single-atom catalyst (SAC) considering different metal atoms and their surrounding non-metals. Dr Thapa’s team necessitates addressing the above problem to fill the gap, which could be the energy equation, energy parameter and electronic descriptor, to help them predict the best SAC catalyst in the large catalyst space for eNRR over HER. The solution is much needed through density functional theory to understand the origin and design principle and lower the time for trials by experimentalists in the laboratory. Prof Thapa is working on energy equations that can predict the best catalyst for eNRR over HER. They defined four regions to find the SAC catalyst for eNRR over HER (1) catalyst for NRR with almost nil HER probability (ii) catalyst for NRR with low HER probability (iii) HER over NRR and (iv) NRR is possible but with H poisoning. Overall, the energy parameter and descriptor to find NRR over HER is a fundamental problem, and the database is a platform to be used by experimentalists and is the key idea.

Read the full paper: https://doi.org/10.1039/D1TA00766A.