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Nanotech Breakthrough by Amrita Alumnus

February 12, 2013 - 3:03

Amrita alumnus Dr. Vijay Prasad Sivan along with other researchers at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) recently made a breakthrough that is expected to significantly advance research in soft electronics and industrial sensing technologies.

Together, the team working at RMIT’s Platform Technologies Research Institute developed droplets of liquid metal coated with nanoparticles. “This novel platform provides a natural interface between metallic conductors and nanomaterials so that one can better exploit the properties of nanomaterials,” explained Dr. Vijay.

“The possibilities of this new platform appear to be amazing, as these droplets overcome the limitations of liquid metals,” he added.

Dr. Vijay graduated from the Amrita’s Coimbatore campus in 2001 with a BE degree in Electronics and Electrical Engineering.

After graduating from Amrita, he enrolled at Bharathidasan University for a master’s degree in Information Technology. In 2003, upon the completion of his master’s program, he was accepted at RMIT for pursuing a doctoral program.

Dr. Vijay is currently at RMIT, working as Research Fellow in the Micro Platforms Group of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research work is funded by Defense Science and Technology Organization (DSTO), Australia.

Dr. Vijay has published the results of his research in several international journals. He has also presented the same at international conferences around the world.

The results of the nanotech breakthrough were first reported in the January 2013 issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Advanced Functional Materials.

Elaborating on the results, Dr. Vijay explained, “The nanoparticles provide a casing to the normally surface-adhering liquid metal particles, allowing them to bounce back easily. These functional nanoparticles form a semi-solid coating on liquid metals.”

“This new, flexible, conductive nano-coating lets liquid metals keep their form by transforming under high pressure and then springing right back. Also by having a functional material as a coating, the liquid metal can be used as a transistor. Any damage in the circuit can be self-healed easily.”

“We call these liquid marbles. The marbles are like flexible ball bearings that can endure high impact and temperature, and operate like semi-conducting systems.”

Commenting on further research possibilities, Dr. Vijay mentioned, “We look forward to exploring the potential of liquid metal marbles in a range of applications. They could be used in optical sensing as heavy metal sensors; also they have a high sensitivity to gas.”

“I am happy to have come upon this breakthrough. A great deal of credit goes to my mentors, co-workers in my interdisciplinary team and to my family members, who have enabled me to get this far,” he stated.

“I am proud to be an Amritian. During my college days, I used to sit in the back of the class and was not performing very well academically. However, things changed in my final-year of the BE program, when Prof. Devarajan A. T. of our department told me that it was good to ask questions. Even if one did not know the answers, one would be inspired to search for them. I guess, that was what finally made me take up research. I still do not know the answers for all questions, however, I am engaged in searching for them.”

February 12, 2013
School of Engineering, Coimbatore

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