As many as seven research proposals from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi have been accepted by the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry’s Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC) initiative. These seven faculty-led, research projects are in areas such as ‘Energy and Water Sustainability’, ‘Advanced Sensors, Electronics and Communication’, ‘Infectious Diseases and Clinical Research’, ‘Humanities and Social Sciences’, ‘Nano, Biotechnology and Applications’, ‘Advanced Functional and Meta-Materials’ and ‘Basic Sciences’.
The SPARC grants will help IIT-Mandi to collaborate with international universities located in the US, France, Germany, UK and Taiwan (Republic of China) and researchers from across the globe to undertake joint research work and to offer short-term courses to the students.
The seven projects at IIT-Mandi chosen under MHRD’s SPARC scheme include:
Biophysics of Zika virus Envelope protein, membrane fusion and inhibitor discovery. The research focuses on understanding the basic biology of ‘how the Zika virus membrane fuses with the host membrane.’ This collaboration will help the researchers of IIT Mandi to seek access to Zika Virus Culture Laboratory at Washington University, St. Louis, US. The researchers from IIT Mandi and Washington University have an established collaboration and the team had recently been able to successfully identify the target of FDA approved drug, Hydroxychloroquine, against Zika virus.
Research on developing conducting polymer nanostructures and their nanocomposites as visible light photocatalysts for environmental remediation using flow chemistry have received a SPARC grant of Rs 60 lakh. The grant will be used for research on developing conducting polymer-based photocatalysts using the principles of flow chemistry. The flow chemistry-based approach will be used to develop environmental remediation of industrial effluents. Various workshops, conferences will also be organised with the help of the SPARC grants.
Two IIT Mandi PhD students – Rituporn Gogoi and Astha Singh – will visit Université Paris-Sud for a period of six months to work on this research.
Another SPARC grant of Rs 62.5 lakh has been granted to the research on ‘Area deprivation and prevalence of non-communicable diseases: Analysis at the block level of Punjab’. The primary focus of this research is to help policymakers of Punjab by providing them a detailed summary on various factors which can be responsible for various non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart attack and diabetes, among others. A team of researchers from Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany will visit IIT Mandi for this research.
Research on ‘Developing novel strategies to capture Phytopathogen-Agricultural host metabolic crosstalk by cell type specific 13C metabolic phenotyping’ has received grant of Rs 46.82 lakh. In this project, the researchers will work upon developing novel strategies that may provide comprehensive insights into the metabolic crosstalk between the selected Phytopathogen and Agricultural host (Ralstonia Solanacearum – Tomato) by employing cell type specific reporter proteins and tracer (13C) analysis. The insights into the fundamental aspects of plant-microbial metabolic interactions with relevance to Agriculture is the expected outcome of this research. This is in collaboration with the University of Oxford
A SPARC grant of Rs 47 lakh has been extended for the research on ‘Computational modelling of polydisperse multiphase bioreactor systems for wastewater treatment’ in collaboration with Imperial College London, UK (Co-Investigator). This grant will primarily be used for inviting foreign experts to IIT Mandi for research work and to conduct a short course on multiphase flow modelling. In the next step, the developed framework will be utilized to propose an improvement in operating conditions and design improvement of existing wastewater treatment equipment.
A grant of Rs 49.20 lakh for their research on ‘Advancing the Fundamentals of Electrocatalysis with the use of Earth Abundant Materials for future of Energy and Transportation’ in collaboration with Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, US. As a part of this project, IIT Mandi researchers will focus on the development, characterization and electrochemical testing of Single Atom Catalyst (SAC) of non-Platinum based Catalyst like iron, cobalt and nickel. In situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy and full cell testing will be undertaken by the foreign researchers at the research facility of Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Another SPARC grant of Rs 65.18 lakh has been issued for research on ‘Technology development of Compound Semiconductor Devices for Optoelectronic and Electronic Applications’ in collaboration with the National Central University, Taiwan. The research will focus on developing a low-cost Gallium Nitride-based transistor which can replace the conventional Silicon transistor in high voltage applications such as electric vehicles. Another aim of this research is to use Gallium Nitride based technology in making Ultra-violet LEDs which can be further used significantly in water disinfection.