The Digital Flora of Peninsular India, developed by IISc’s Centre for Ecological Sciences, was launched on Mar 2, 2019. It provides free access to peer-reviewed information on over 10,000 species of plants from peninsular India.
The website was launched on 2 March 2019 by Lakshmi Narayanan, former VC and CEO of Cognizant Technologies, and Kameswara Rao, retired chair of the Department of Botany and Sericulture, Bangalore University. The duo have been instrumental in promoting this initiative: Narayanan, recently, made a personal contribution to this cause and Kameswara Rao chaired the database’s peer-reviewing committee.
The “Centre for Infectious Diseases Research – Infosys Wing” was recently inaugurated at IISc by Mrs Sudha Murty, Chair, Infosys Foundation. It is supported by a CSR grant from the Foundation aimed at boosting research & awareness of diseases such as malaria & TB.
IISc has been ranked once again as India’s #1 institution overall, and #1 university in the latest MHRD NIRF rankings.
The institute retains its top position in the overall category for the second year in a row.
The national rankings, first released in 2016, are based on broad parameters such as Teaching, Learning & Resources, Research & Professional Practices, Graduation Outcomes, Outreach & Inclusivity, and Perception.
Dr. K. Sivan (ME, Aerospace Engineering, 1982) has been appointed as the new Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization. Dr. Sivan has made significant contributions to the design of PSLV, GSLV and GSLV Mk-III vehicle. Notably, he has been credited for the development of the record-breaking PSLV rocket carrying 104 satellites, which was launched last year.
Dr. Sivan succeeds the current Chairman, Shri AS Kiran Kumar, who is also an IISc alumnus (M Tech, Physical Engg, 1975).
Alumnus Vikas Sathaye wins technical Academy Award
Alumnus Vikas Vinay Sathaye (M. Tech. Instrumentation, 1996) has received the Scientific and Engineering Award 2018 from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, USA, for his contribution to developing an innovative aerial camera system used in filming several Hollywood blockbusters.
He shares the award with former colleagues John Coyle, Brad Hurndell and Shane Buckham at Shotover Camera Systems, a Queenstown, New Zealand-based company.The four received the prestigious award for the concept, design, engineering and implementation of the Shotover K1 Camera System. “This innovative six-axis stabilized aerial camera mount, with its enhanced ability to frame shots while looking straight down, enables greater creative freedom while allowing pilots to fly more effectively and safely,” states the Academy citation.
After completing a diploma in instrumentation from VPM’s polytechnic, Thane, and a bachelor’s degree in electronics from VIT Pune, Sathaye joined IISc for his M. Tech. degree in Instrumentation in 1994, where he worked on a project on Crystallization Robots. Following his graduation in 1996, he briefly taught at Cummins College of Engineering for Women, Pune.
While on a trip to Italy for a project with Fiat, he became fascinated with the automation technology used in car manufacture and decided to enter the field of embedded software technology. After working at a few organizations, he eventually joined a newly established company called Shotover Camera Systems in Queenstown, New Zealand, which was developing a state-of-the-art aerial filming camera mount. The mount, also called a gimbal, is attached to the base of the helicopter that carries the camera and lens. Its primary function is to eliminate vibration to enable a steady, jitter-free footage, and also move the camera head in any desired direction.
“Traditionally gimbals used to have analog control system and our objective was to design the control system which will be based on digital technology,” says Sathaye. “As a software and control system engineer, my primary job was to stabilize the camera platform and move the gimbal head in the desired direction based on the joystick commands issued by the camera operator. Besides this, I was responsible for driving the servo-lens system and to display all the camera and gimbal-related parameters as overlay on the LCD monitor.”
Starting with a single axis mount for 2D filming, the team eventually developed a 6-axis 3D gimbal that can be used with a wide range of cameras and lenses. Their first 3D prototype, called the Shotover K1, was used in shooting the film Walking with Dinosaurs. Since then, Shotover K1 has been used in over a hundred different films, including The Hobbit, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Spectre, Deepwater Horizon, Spiderman: Homecoming and Dunkirk.
The team received the academy plaques in a ceremony held at Beverly Wilshire, Los Angeles, USA, on 10th February, 2018. “I would like to thank my family, my teachers, friends and colleagues who have loved me and supported me always,” says Sathaye.
Alumnus Dr. Brij Seth (B.E. Metallurgy 1960) has made a substantial contribution to establish an endowment at IISc that will support scholarships for UG students in the department of Materials Engineering.
After completing his BE from IISc in 1960, he graduated from University of Toronto with an M.A.Sc. and a PhD in Metallurgical Engineering. He has served in several engineering and leadership positions in various organizations including Atlas Steels Co., Westinghouse Electric Corporation and Siemens Corporation. Dr. Seth has a 40-year record of consistent technical leadership solving product problems and developing new and unusual materials, processes, inspection and repair techniques for use in power generation equipment. He has served as a role model and mentor to many current and aspiring engineers. He also has several patents and publications, and has served on boards of various communities and councils.
His endowment will start supporting UG scholarships from 2017. At the end of four years, 4 students will start receiving scholarships each year from this endowment.
Prof. Yamuna Krishnan, alumna of IISc (PhD in 2002), has received the Infosys Prize 2017 in Physical Sciences for her pioneering work in DNA nanodevices.
Prof. Yamuna Krishnan has carried out ground-breaking work in the emerging field of architecture of the building blocks of life—the DNA. She has pioneered the use of synthetic DNA in developing dynamic DNA nanodevices for functional bio-imaging in vivo; making rigid DNA nanodevices that can deliver bio-imaging components in a cell-specific manner; discovering a new non-Watson-Crick base-paired DNA motif called i-motif; and showing the microRNA cluster folds into a well-defined structure that can act as transporter of specific cargo held within this rigid structure. These structures can then be taken to test their functional impact on either material or biological system, thus bridging material science and biology.
Krishnan was the first to recognize the functionality of the designer DNA and has exploited this finding in making nanodevices that work in living systems. She designed a dynamic DNA nanodevice that functioned as pH-triggered molecular switch enabling measurement of the acidity inside a living cell. This work has been expanded to obtain chemical maps of chloride inside the cell.
The impact of Krishnan’s work is enormous: it ranges from the constructing probes of biological processes in living cells and organisms, use of the functionality of the designer DNA devices in living systems, and development of DNA devices to selectively transport proteins to specific targets. Overall, such technology will improve medicine, biology, and material science.
Alumnus Mr. K.R. Raghunath (’67 B.E. Metallurgy), Vice Chairman, Jindal Aluminium, has enabled a generous contribution from the Jindal Aluminium Group, to support the construction of a new women’s hostel block on IISc Bangalore campus. Mr. Raghunath was primarily responsible for establishing this partnership between IISc and Jindal Aluminium Group and obtaining the funding for the new women’s hostel block.
On July 25, 2017, an MoU was signed at IISc by Mr. Pragun Jindal Khaitan, MD, Jindal Aluminium Limited, and the Registrar, IISc, in the presence of Prof. Anurag Kumar, Director, IISc. Also present at the signing were Mr. Raghunath and senior administrators from IISc.
Jindal Aluminium Limited is a national leader in aluminium extrusions, and also exports its products to several countries all over the world. The company also runs many charitable trusts/social organizationsthrough which it liberally donates to organizations across the country.
IISc is keen on encouraging more women students to pursue research programs at the institute. The number of women students joining the Institute has increased in recent years, and IISc plans to expand and modernize the accommodation available for them, to enable them to gain maximum benefit from the campus academic infrastructure.
To support IISc’s aspirations, Jindal Aluminium Limited came forward with a generous contribution to support the construction of a modern women’s hostel block. The new block, estimated to be constructed at Rs. 20 crores, will be named after Mr. Sitaram Jindal, Founder, Jindal Aluminium Limited, upon completion.
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have developed a highly sensitive, low-cost nanosensor that can quickly detect minute changes in carbon monoxide (CO) levels, with potential applications in environmental pollution monitoring.
The team used a novel fabrication technique that leaves out lithography — a time-consuming and expensive process — to construct a honeycomb-like nanostructure made up of zinc oxide. The sensor was able to detect a difference in CO level as low as 500 parts per billion and selectively respond to CO even in the presence of other gases. The lithography-less technique also significantly cuts down the time and cost involved in making nanostructured gas sensors.
The study was carried out by Chandra Shekhar Prajapati, postdoctoral fellow, and Navakanta Bhat, Chair & Professor, Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE), IISc, along with researchers at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden.
“The size of the sensor itself is less than 1 mm,” says Bhat. “If you combine it with the rest of the signal processing electronics and a small display, it may not be more than a couple of cm. This can be integrated with a cell phone, or imagine a small device at every traffic signal which can transmit the data to your cell phone through Bluetooth.”
Conventional micro-machined CO sensors have a flat layer of zinc oxide, a metal oxide semiconductor, through which current flows. When exposed to CO, the resistance of the layer changes, affecting the amount of current flowing through. How much the resistance changes can be mapped to how much CO there is. Creating nanostructures on flat zinc oxide improves the sensitivity, as the area available for gas interaction increases. However, making these nanosensors using traditional lithography — a multi-step process where metal oxide templates are etched on a light-sensitive material — requires sophisticated equipment and is time-consuming.
Instead, the researchers used tiny beads of polystyrene that arrange themselves into a closely packed layer when spread on an oxidized silicon surface. When zinc oxide is added, it settles into the hexagonal gaps between the beads. When the beads are then “lifted off”, what remains is a 3D honeycomb of zinc oxide, with a much larger surface area available for gas interaction than a flat plate.
The technique could cost significantly less than lithography-based methods, the researchers say. “You can buy a packet of these micron-sized polystyrene beads in the market for Rs. 4000-5000, which can be used to create nanostructures on thousands of sensors. This results in significant cost reduction compared to traditional lithography-based techniques to form such honeycombs,” says Prajapati. In addition, the process only takes a few minutes, while lithography-based multi-step methods can take a few hours, he adds.
For environmental applications, gas sensors need to be both highly sensitive (detect very low levels) and selective (detect a specific gas in the presence of other gases). The researchers developed sensors with varying honeycomb wall width, and found that the one with the smallest width (~100 nm) was able to detect a change of even 500 parts per billion in CO concentration. When tested with a mixture of gases, the sensor also showed a distinctly greater response for CO.
The polystyrene-based method can be used to develop similar honeycomb nanostructures for other metal oxides to detect other gases, the researchers say. “What we have is a generic platform. You can do the same nano-structuring for different metal oxide semiconductor sensors,” says Bhat.
Bhat and his team have been working on developing miniature sensors for air quality monitoring for several years. They previously developed a hybrid sensor array to detect four different gases simultaneously.
IISc has been ranked as India’s best institution for higher education overall in the second edition of the MHRD’s National Institutional Ranking Framework rankings. The Institute also retained its top position in the universities category.
The national rankings, introduced last year, are based on broad parameters such as Teaching, Learning and Resources, Research and Professional Practices, Graduation Outcomes, Outreach and Inclusivity, and Perception.
IISc researchers have, for the first time, experimentally accessed a new type of electrical conductor which was theoretically predicted to exist at the edge of graphene nearly 20 years ago.
Since 2004, many groups over the world have remained unsuccessful in accessing these edges because when current flows through graphene, it flows through both the edge and the bulk. IISc scientists succeeded by keeping the graphene edges very clean and narrowing down the width of graphene to less than 10 nm.
The finding could incentivize development of new chemical methods to make high-quality graphene nanoribbons or nanostrips with clean edges. This can lead to realizing power-efficient electronics and to quantum information transfer, even at room temperature.
Sonata Software Limited, a global IT services company, is supporting scientific research, education outreach and infrastructure development at the Department of Computer Science and Automation (CSA), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), under its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.
“We gratefully acknowledge the extremely generous support from Sonata Software under the CSR scheme,” said Prof. Jayant Haritsa, Chairman, CSA. “This will enable us to vigorously pursue new research initiatives at the frontiers, to effectively transmit the excitement of computer science research through targeted student outreach programs, and to materially upgrade our pedagogical infrastructure, resulting in potent learning environments. This industry-academia collaboration represents a welcome new initiative that can take the higher education enterprise to the next level of excellence.”
The 3-year project, funded to the tune of Rs. 1.07 crores, will focus on boosting research activities in cutting-edge areas of computer science that are of contemporary relevance to both industry and academia. The programs are aimed at benefiting students from all over the country to look at research and ideation at IISc. The program would support research activities and other outreach programs such as Summer School, Student Internship programs and Swagatam to encourage the best of undergraduate students to pursue PhD programs in computer science and engineering in the country.
Mr. Srikar Reddy, CEO, Sonata Software said, “We’re proud to be associated with the reputed CSA department of IISc. It’s aligned to our vision as a technology firm that investments in research activities in new age technologies are immensely important to applying new technologies to solve complex real life problems, also to ingrain a culture of innovation in our own organization with our association with a reputed institute like IISc.”
Founded in 1969, the CSA department is ranked among the top 100 CS departments in the world, according to recent Times Higher Education rankings. CSA researchers contribute to cutting-edge research in topical areas of computer science and are actively engaged in many high impact collaborative projects.
CSR at Sonata:
Sonata’s CSR Vision is to ‘Make a Deep Impact and Transform Lives’. CSR at Sonata has primarily focused on multiple themes like traditional arts, textile and handicrafts, technology incubation and entrepreneurship, education and environment, and preservation of our cultural heritage. Our successful projects/initiatives in these areas over the years have been hugely effective and beneficial to the end users.