Saturday, December 16, 2006

P.M. Ajayan on nanoscience and technology


Rediff is running this wonderful interview of my undergraduate classmate and hotshot nanoscience and nanotechnology researcher P.M. Ajayan. The interviewer, Yogesh Upadhyaya, is a good friend too (I have linked to quite a few of his Rediff articles, and he is also a frequent commenter here).

Here's a nifty quote from early in the interview:

I tend to call nanotechnology 'god's own technology,' reminiscing my own origins from the state of Kerala, which is often called 'god's own country.'

There is also another aspect that makes nano fundamentally exciting and that has to do with change of physical properties in many systems as the size becomes smaller. It does not happen at all sizes, but at some point as we go down in size, there is a transformation of quantity into quality; in other words material behaviour changes from its bulk character to something different.

Typically, ... this size -- where the transition occurs -- fall in the nano scale.

Towards the end, the interview turns to Ajayan's impressions on the nanoscience and nanotech research in India. It's worth quoting his answer in full:

Some of the premier institutions in India (IISC, IITs, National Chemical Laboratory, National Physical Laboratory, etc., to name a few) are already working in this area but the resources available to make the real impact is lacking, in my opinion. We are far behind most countries with serious research endeavours, in nanotech funding.

The infrastructure is important if we want to succeed in this effort and the lack of availability of research infrastructure to the research community at large has hampered the enthusiasm. Moreover a good planning document and long term sustained plans to create the nanotechnology infrastructure in India is missing.

There are quite a few conferences today in India focusing on nanotechnology, but the tangible results from these have been dismal. We need to have concerted efforts from the funding institutions, universities, national labs and industry to identify areas where we can make real impact and utilize resources carefully in those areas. As far as I can see India should exploit nanotech opportunities in the alternate energy and health care sectors.

Education and training of students is equally important. This is easy to do since there exist a remarkable pool of talent in India but there has to be progressive thinking in universities with regard to modernizing curriculum and the educational system. This is not just for nanotech but for science and technology in general.

* * *

It's vacation time for the nanopolitan family, and blogging is unlikely for the next few days. See you all after this short break.

2 Comments:

  1. Vishnu said...

    Does he mean "we" or "you"?

  2. yogesh upadhyaya said...

    Abi:

    Thanks for posting the link of rediff interview with Pof. Ajayan. In fact, the first award of Scientific American Magazine goes to Angela Belcher, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This eclectic investigator draws inspiration from nature's genius for building things at the nanoscale. Belcher has pioneered the use of custom-evolved viruses in synthesizing nano-scale wires and arrays, fusing different research disciplines into something uniquely her own.

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=CA13F432-E7F2-99DF-3DD2C7F789E34178

    At # 30, the only other scientist of Indian origin (besides prof. Ajayan) is Prabhakar R. Bandaru of the University of California, San Diego. He and his coworkers there and at Clemson University demonstrated a radically new kind of nanotube-based transistor.

    Thanks,

    Yogesh K. Upadhyaya