Nandini Bhandaru, a PhD student at IIT Kharagpur has been recently conferred with European Materials Research Society’s Young Scientist Award at EMRS 2016 Spring Meeting Lille France.
Nandini, who is working at Instability and Soft Patterning laboratory has won the award based on her outstanding contribution to material science and nano technology, particularly nano patterning of soft films and surfaces. Nandini’s area of doctoral research is on nanofabrication including soft-Lithography, thin film dewetting, polymer blend films and self-assembly.
Topographically patterned polymer films and surfaces find wide application in various areas such as organic electronics organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), optoelectronic devices, thin film transistors (TFTs), plastic solar cells, biological sensors microfluidics, smart and super adhesives, data storage media, lab-on-a-chip devices, surfaces for nano-biotechnology applications such as patterned substrates for probing of cell behavior, including stem cell scaffolds for tissue engineering, DNA stretching, and so on. For most of the above applications and many other bulk nano applications rapid prototyping of surfaces with the pattern extending over large areas (~cm2) is necessary. Many of these applications have revolutionized various aspects of our life, leaving their imprint in from engineering applications to biotechnological applications and health care.
The innovation by Nandini, proposes the possibility of fabricating nano scale patterned surfaces, which may act as the “mother board” for many of the devices and applications listed above at an extremely low cost and using an inherently simple methodology. With this technique, the fabrication costs of these surfaces can be reduced to one tenth of the current Photolithography or Electron Beam Lithography based methods which requires high end expensive instrumentation.Part of the work has already been patented and published. One more paper and a patent are under preparation based on this work.
The technique developed has been fully stabilized and patented and can be commercialized with minimal capital investment. “In fact, we have already started collaborating with various groups across IIT KGP and other IITs for performing combinatorial experiments related to some of the themes discussed above. For example, we studied issues like how a living cell attaches or moves on a surface with differential feature height which is highly important in cancer therapeutics. The high aspect ratio patterns are also ideally suited for fabricating surfaces that exhibit structural superhydrophobicity” said Nandini.
Nandini’s guide, Prof. Rabibrata Mukherjee from the Dept. of Chemical Engineering said, “it had been one of my most satisfying experiences to mentor Nandini. She joined me young, as a fresh Masters student and ever since has been sky rocketing in research with outstanding contributions. After a very successful M Tech she decided to stay back with me for her PhD, declining several lucrative job offers. She has already made exception contribution in the field of nano patterning of thin films and surfaces. Very few researchers in the world have the capability of manipulating objects at the nanoscale, as she has.” About the innovation he explains “The key strength of this nanofabrication method is that it is very generic and robust in nature and hence can be demonstrtaed even in a high school laboratory. We have implemented it in various fields like solar energy harvesting, water purification membranes and as scaffolds in regenerative tissue engineering.”