Mohali marker: Small is big at Institute of Nano Science and Technology | punjab | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Mohali marker: Small is big at Institute of Nano Science and Technology

Minuscule: The Institute of Nano Science and Technology in Mohali follows a multi-disciplinary approach to provide technological solutions to problems in agriculture, energy, environment and medicine

punjab Updated: Feb 15, 2018 16:42 IST
 Jagmeeta Thind Joy
A student performing an experiment at the Institute of Nano Science and Technology, Sector 64, Mohali.
A student performing an experiment at the Institute of Nano Science and Technology, Sector 64, Mohali. (Anil Dayal/HT)

The prominent red building at the Habitat Centre in Sector 64, Mohali is the temporary home of the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST). Mohali can take pride in the fact that this is the first and only institute of its kind funded by the Government of India with a mandate for pursuing nanoscience and technology. Established by the Department of Science and Technology in 2013, INST is a specialised centre where scientists from different streams are putting their experiences and minds together to work on challenging interdisciplinary projects. The aim is to provide a technology or device based on nanoscience research.

The small, big world of nanoscience

Nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter at the atomic and molecular scale to create materials with remarkably varied and new properties, is a rapidly expanding area of research. “Today, nanoscience has a huge potential to revolutionise our lives and to provide technological solutions to our problems, be it in the field of agriculture, energy, the environment or medicine,” remarks Prof Hirendra N. Ghosh, director of INST, who is here on deputation from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai.

“Today, nanoscience has a huge potential to revolutionise our lives and to provide technological solutions to our problems, be it in the field of agriculture, energy, the environment or medicine.” Hirendra N. Ghosh, director of INST

Leading a team of 38 scientists and over a hundred research scholars, Prof Ghosh explains how with global issues like pollution and population increasing pressure on resources, it is time to reinvent and rethink solutions for better living. “Scientists at INST research nano-scale systems to design and construct technology-based products and devices to improve our living,” explains Prof Ghosh who has been lauded for his work in nanostructured materials.

All for one

The key thrust areas that scientists are working on at the Institute are agriculture, energy, environment and healthcare. “There is synergy here and we have scientists who have specialised in different fields – be it biologists, physicists and engineers – working together. The scientists with specialisation in basic science work together as a cohesive unit besides carrying out individual research,” explains Dr Deepa Ghosh, who heads the research department and has been working in therapeutics for many years. “The main aim of research is to be able to provide solutions to problems that affect society at large,” says Dr Ghosh. Listing examples, she mentions the appreciable work done on low-cost air purification, novel nanoparticles based inhalable delivery system for drug resistant tuberculosis, nano-spray gel formulation for instant relief in frost bite injury, nano carriers for hydrophobic drug delivery for cancer and design of filtration system for recycling industrial and domestic waste water. The Institute has received a funding of Rs 60 crore for further research.

The Institute of Nano Science and Technology, Mohali, can take pride in the fact that this is the first and only institute of its kind funded by the Government of India with a mandate for pursuing nanoscience and technology. (Anil Dayal/HT)

Industry linkages and technology transfer

The Institute has been credited for developing linkages with academic/research institutes and industries to address the burning issues. “We are a part of Chandigarh Region Innovation and Knowledge Cluster to facilitate innovation and knowledge creation,” informs Asish Pal, Associate Professor at INST. Realising that the innovation can only change the world when it is in use, the institute has been identifying research areas with potential commercial interest as well.

Unique outreach programme

To make sure that young people from schools and colleges are initiated in the world of science and are aware of the work that Indian scientists are doing, INST has started a unique outreach programme. “As part of this initiative, I and my team of scientists travel to remote and rural areas with an objective to encourage students to pursue a career in science,” informs Prof Ghosh who wants more students from Punjab to apply at INST. “We also conduct seminars and workshops for school students,” adds Prof Pal who says as many as 15,000 students have benefited from the outreach programme. “We have many research programs and have over hundred scholars from across the country with us here,” says Ghosh.

World class facility

The institute is currently operating from its transit campus in Sector 64, Phase X, Mohali, its new campus will be set up on 35 acres of land in the Knowledge City at Sector 81 next to the IISER campus. “We should be in our new campusin two years. Nevertheless, we are working with state-of-the-art infrastructural facilities. We have the latest instruments for research required by the students and faculty,” informs Prof Pal as he takes us through the equipped laboratories. The transient absorption spectrometer has a pride of place here along with a range of instruments.