Nano Tech

Paridhi Sanchora is Nidhi’s younger sister. She has done her BTech in electronics and communication. She went on to do her M tech micro electromechanical devices. This includes stuff lke accelerometers and nano cantilevers. The advantage of the smaller devices is that the response time is lower. Which means that when there is a car crash the accelerometers give feedback which is a few milliseconds faster compared to bigger devices. A difference that could be enough to save a life.

Her current interest is moving from the micro to the nano. We asked her for examples of use of nanotechnology. One example she gave was for a biosensor, which is used to detect tuberculosis. The difference in the saliva sample of an individual who has TB, versus one who does not, is in the additional weight of bacteria for the same volume. Using nanotechnology cantilevers, which are very sensitive to weight, she is able to theoretically predict whether a patient has the additional bacterial (literally) load, and so can make a prediction about whether the patient has tuberculosis.

She is a Junior Research Fellow, who has also enrolled for her PhD under the same guide. This is currently at the state government funded IITRAM, Ahmedabad. She talked of a project that she did at IIT Mandi. Normally titanium oxide is used as the pigment in white cement. Her project was to replace titanium oxide with zinc oxide. Zinc oxide, is not only cheaper, but also is a bacteriacide or fungicide. It dissuades growth of organic material. So the plan is to apply this particular white cement to sewage canals so that there is no molding or fungal growth.

Her PhD is in going to be in the field of ionic liquids. I have forwarded her the video from nature.com, which talks about how ionic air is being used to create aircraft with no moving parts. She talked about organic salts versus natural salt like sodium chloride. The difference between the two is in the length of the bonds. Organic salts have got weaker bonds, hence they are easier to dissolve and melt at lower temperatures. She has been able to make salts of organic materials almost at will. Combining cations with different anions. The length of the chain can also be varied this way. This means that viscosity can be varied. The application over here is in areas like lubrication and catalysts.

Another application area is green solvents. Organic chemistry is mostly about hydrogen bonds. She drove home the point by asking us how is it that hydrogen and oxygen are gases, but water is a liquid? If the length of the hydrogen bond is less than 2.2 angstroms, then it’s a strong bond. If it is longer, then it remains a gas.