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Department of Materials Engineering

Professor Praveen Kumar - A materials scientist with an eye for detail

Dropped your mobile phone? You may soon stop worrying about it, thanks to the newly discovered phenomena related to carbon nanotube foam used as a shock-absorbent material in mobile phones. As a material scientist, Prof. Praveen Kumar’s work on studying the mechanical behaviour of materials has earned him various awards, the most recent ones being the Indian National Science Academy Young Scientist Award, 2016, National Academy of Science, India -Young Scientist Platinum Jubilee awards - 2016 and Associate of Indian Academy of Science. In his Thermo-Electro-Mechanical Behaviour Lab at the Department of Materials Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Prof. Kumar and his students study the effects of size and electric fields on mechanical properties of materials and materials processing.

Scientists Use Turmeric for Bone Regeneration

Turmeric is a ubiquitous ingredient in home remedies for ailments ranging from infections to arthritis. A mixture of turmeric and milk (haldi-doodh) has been used as a traditional cure for bone fractures. Modern science has shown that curcumin, the primary component of turmeric, possesses anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. In recent times, researchers in the field of bone tissue engineering, who seek to engineer novel strategies for bone tissue regeneration, are exploring the documented benefits of curcumin on bone growth. Now, a new study by Prof. Kaushik Chatterjee and his group at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, shows that encapsulating curcumin in a restorable ‘scaffold’ enables sustained release of the chemical, and enhances bone repair. The study is an attempt to highlight the promise of phytochemicals, a class of molecules found in Indian spices, in bone tissue engineering.

Smaller the size, better the functionality - Certain materials can change polarization and magnetization on shrinking, discover scientists

Ferroelectric materials carry a spontaneously polarized charge within their crystalline structure that can be reversed by the application of an electric field. As scientists try to shrink them to nanometre sizes, these materials often lose their polarization. Now, a collaborative research team from India and Germany has observed an unexpected effect in the ferroelectric alloy of bismuth ferrite and lead titanate (BiFeO3-PbTiO3). They have found that mechanically grinding this material to smaller sizes actually leads to a different atomic arrangement - a new structural phase that retains the polarization with slight alteration. This discovery opens up interesting possibilities for using this ferroelectric material in a variety of miniaturised devices - computer memory, RFIDs, sensors and actuators.

Scientists develop a novel Nanoparticle-Polymer composite for healing defects in bone

Advancements in science, especially those pertaining to technology is often motivated by real life problems. The research at the Biomaterial and Tissue Engineering Laboratory at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, headed by Dr. Kaushik Chatterjee of the Department of Materials Engineering, fits this narrative. The lab tries to make use of material technologies to address biomedical challenges. Their recent work focuses on developing a synthetic polymer using nano-technology that can be used as substitutes for bone grafting.

Engineering Cancer Cells

Cancer is one of the most dreaded and painful diseases of our age. It is the second most common disease in India. About a quarter of a million people die of cancer in India every year. A better understanding of the underlying mechanism will go a long way in improving treatment and management of the disease. Several research groups and health care specialists worldwide are doing extensive research in trying to understand the disease and develop treatments.

A 3D lab model to mimic how cancer cells grow within the body

Breast cancer, the most common cancer in women worldwide, claimed more than 500,000 deaths in 2012. 90% of those deaths happened because the cancer spread to different organs in the body, i.e. it metastasized. Effective lab bench models that mimic the events leading to metastasis within the body are needed urgently to better understand the process of metastasis and to identify drugs to treat it.