Supramolecular Photonic Materials

Materials developed by the self-assembly of p-conjugated molecules have been our interest due to their reversible, adaptive, self-healing, and stimuli-responsive properties. We develop various strategies to tune the optical, electronic and self-assembling properties of the p-conjugated  molecules to render them useful for applications in different fields such as sensors, bio-imaging, forensic and anti-counterfeiting, energy harvesting and conversion, and security printing.
Unique Features:
  • Color tunable self-assembled p-systems for photonic applications.
  • Sensing and imaging materials for various environmental and bio-analytes.
  • Materials for forensic and security-related applications.
  • Novel materials/paint formulations/coatings.

Fluorescent Materials for Security Printing

Photosciences and Photonics Section of the Chemical Sciences and Technology Division has proven expertise in the area of fluorescent molecules and materials. The current program is an effort to channelize this multidisciplinary expertise into developing useful products for anti-counterfeiting and security printing applications.
Unique Features:
  • ‘Invisible’ and visible fluorescent materials
  • Cost-effective compared to imports
  • The choice of fluorescence shade is virtually limitless
  • Multi-stimuli (light, heat, stress, etc.) responsive luminescence
  • Two contrasting fluorescence under standard and special UV
  • Enhanced security with uncompromised aesthetics
  • Offer both covert and overt methods of protection

Halide Perovskite Based Nanocrystals

Luminescent perovskite nanocrystals (PNCs) are receiving great scientific attention due to their narrow emission with exceptionally high photoluminescence quantum yields and facile tunability of optical band gap over the entire visible region. In addition to photoluminescence, they exhibit fascinating properties such as defect tolerance, tunable morphologies, multiple exciton generation, charge generation and amplified stimulated emission, etc. We focus on the synthesis, photophysical, and optoelectronic properties and applications of PNCs.
Unique Features:
  • Control over size, shape, and aspect ratio
  • Facile tuning of optical properties
  • High stability at ambient conditions
  • Suitable for neuromorphic memory devices
  • LED, Photodetector and Photocatalytic applications

Organic and Hybrid Electronics

Organic Electronics is the branch of technology that deals with electronic devices fabricated using organic materials. The promise of low cost, processing at low temperature and flexible features make them attractive candidates for printable and wearable electronic devices. We focus on developing new device designs for white organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) for gas sensors and nonvolatile memory and organic photodetectors (OPDs). Organic-inorganic hybrids are given particular attention due to their attractive properties.
Unique Features:
  • White OLED designs with low process complexity
  • Exciplex and electromer based OLEDs
  • OFET based ammonia sensors and VOC sensors
  • Organic/ZnO based UV detectors

Dye Cells for Indoor Photovoltaics & Energy Management

Dye Cells (DSCs) belong to the 3rd generation photovoltaics. Unlike conventional solar cells which require direct sunlight, DSCs function in low/artificial/indirect light, making them ideal for indoor use. They are aesthetically pleasing as the color can be varied by the choice of the dyes used. We have established an indigenous semi-automatic fabrication unit for manufacturing dye sensitized solar modules. We also work on Dynamic Power Windows (DPWs) that combine the benefits of switchable transparency simultaneous with energy generation.
Unique Features:
  • Design and engineering of equipment for 3rd generation photovoltaic sector
  • Provide turn-key solutions for optimized process know-hows and materials
  • Efficiencies >30% with custom engineered indoor photovoltaic dye cells
  • Designed dyes with better absorption matching with artificial light
  • Engineered semiconductor electrodes for BIPV applications

Thermoelectric Materials and Devices

Polymer nanocomposite based thermoelectric materials are a new class of functional materials with immense potential for commercial usage. Devices based on these materials typically operate at < 350 °C and could be used for on-the-spot sustainable power generation. Since more 66% of the produced energy ends up as waste heat, a cost-effective technology that deals with the direct conversion of waste heat into electricity is crucial for realizing green energy generation and utilization challenges.
Unique Features:
  • New p-type organic-inorganic composites
  • New n-type organic-inorganic composites
  • Enhanced stability
  • Module fabrication:
  • Thermoelectric (power) generator (TEG)
  • Thermoelectric cooler (TEC)
  • Module performance analysis and optimization
  • Prototype testing and demonstration

Chromogenic Materials and Devices

Chromogenic materials are a family of ‘smart materials’ that can change their optical properties under the application of an external stimulus. The Photosciences and Photonics Section works on electrochromic, thermochromic and photochromic materials, devices and smart windows. Smart glass technology is envisaged to be one of the best possible strategies towards the management of domestic energy supply, via the regulation of indoor temperature and light and further provides privacy on-demand.
Unique Features:
  • Engineering of New Chromogenic Materials (Organic, Inorganic, Hybrid)
  • Development of Functional Electrolytes (Polymer, Gel, Solid)
  • Indigenous Process and State of the Art Fabrication for Commercialization
  • Multicolor Devices/Prototypes (Leak proof, Cost effective, Color purity)
  • Temperature and Energy Management (?3oC reduction of indoor temp.)

Handheld Raman Spectrometer

Raman spectroscopy is a powerful tool for material identification, chemical analysis and sensing applications. The unique advantages of portability, native non-destructive and rapid analysis qualify them best devices for onsite analysis including authentication and detection of adulteration.
       We have the expertise in fabrication of highly customized handheld Raman spectrometer, tailored for specific applications and equipping it with the software for automated analysis such that the instrument can be carried anywhere and is operable by anyone. We also have the know-how for producing of SERS substrates (nanostructured plasmonic materials), which can be used for trace level detection.
Unique Features:
  • Portable, battery operable and cost effective devices
  • Fast and non-destructive analysis
  • No requirement for sample preparation
  • No trained personal for analysis
  • Onsite material identification, authentication and biological analysis

Ultrafast Spectroscopy – Excited State Properties

The chemical bonds break, form, or geometrically change with surprising rapidity during the transformation of reactants to products. This ultrafast transformation is a dynamic process involving the mechanical motion of electrons and atomic nuclei. As the speed of atomic motion is ~1 km/second, the average time required to experiment atomic-scale dynamics over a distance of an angstrom is ~100 femtoseconds. Hence the advantage of using ultrashort pulses is that they open the door to investigate the dynamics of the system directly, i.e., the movement of individual particles such as electrons or atoms.
       We investigate the ultrafast excited state relaxation dynamics involved in the photofunctional materials and protein-lipids interaction dynamics upon ultrafast laser excitation.
Unique Features:
  • Dynamics of Intramolecular Singlet Fission Process
  • Solvation and (Twisted) Intramolecular Charge Transfer Dynamics
  • Dynamics of Thermally Activated Delayed Fluorescence
  • Excited State Symmetry Breaking

Natural Product Chemistry

Harnessing the natural wealth (plant/herbal/microbial) of the region to obtain novel biologically active compounds or leads for drug synthesis, exploring traditional systems of medicine including Ayurveda, Siddha and tribal medicine for lead structures and correlating/corroborating this wealth of knowledge with modern diagnostic chemical and biological testing methods. The natural products isolated from plants/microbial cultures etc are screened against several biological targets such as for antibacterial against ESKAP pathogens,   antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents etc. This is done through interdisciplinary collaborations with in the institute and also with several national laboratories and universities. In addition, we have a very good facility for in vivo screening of molecules with biological potential. The abundant natural products are synthetically modified for enhancement of biological activity. By utilizing the rich repository of phytomolecules, we are supporting the quality control/standardization of herbal raw materials and finished products for Ayurveda and herbal industry.  The scientific validation of herbal formulations, both classical and proprietary products are taken up in the institute.  We have stablished a facility for herbal formulations with special focus on making galenical formulations of traditional medicines.
Unique Features:
  • Methodological explorations for effective evaluation and validation of traditional wisdom
  • Exploration of the medicinal plants and microbes of the Western Ghats
  • Large repository of phytomolecules and analogues
  • Advanced hits against MDR strains of Staphylococcus aureus
  • Skill and expertise for isolation and characterization of natural products.
  • Semisynthetic modification of natural products
  • Multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional projects in CNS disorders and infectious diseases

Development of sustainable and green methods for chemical synthesis

The quest for sustainable development in chemistry has tempted both organic chemists and environmental chemists to search for green and environmentally friendly methodologies. For sustainable development, the methodologies should address three main factors: 1) reduced consumption of raw materials and energy, 2) maximum use of renewable resources and 3) minimal use of harmful chemicals. These new methods must be environment friendly with minimum of waste, with high efficiency and by utilizing processes with 100 % atom economy.  There is an increasing demands for product safety and efficacy in the chemical industry and allied branches and this trend is evident in other branches of industry as well, due to increasing concerns for biodegradability of the products. The development of efficient methods to access complex molecules with multiple stereogenic centers has become a substantial challenge in both academic research and industrial applications. The growing importance of the chemical industry and other branches as part of Make in India initiatives of Government of India and the growing needs of effective, environmentally sound production methods, we are focusing developing sustainable methods by developing novel and efficient green routes for chemical synthesis.
Unique Features:
  • Sustainable synthetic routes towards scaffolds for medicinal and material interests
  • Green chemistry routes for chemical intermediates, agrochemicals and advanced pharmaceutical ingredients
  • Organic photochemistry methodologies for green synthesis

Diagnostics and Nanotheranostics for Biomedical Applications

In this area an interdisciplinary team is working at the interface between chemistry, biology and nano science. Chronological development of common methods used in molecular biology, biochemistry, cytopathology, and genetics are based on various manipulation of analysis of proteins, nucleic acids and lipids. These techniques are broadly covered in diagnostic pathology viz., neoplastic disorders, infectious diseases, inherited conditions and identity determination. Modern techniques are explored through various aspects of spectroscopy where Raman spectroscopy and it’s modified version i.e., surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is evolved as a potential ultrasensitive diagnostic tool for wide range of disease detection and spread over in the healthcare sector. In biomedical applications nanoparticles (NPs) were extensively investigated in drug delivery and imaging. Nanomaterials are diverse in their composition and hence can be categorized as carbon, metal and inorganic and organic NPs. Carefully fabricated NPs with cell targeting ligands could be loaded with suitable cargo to assemble ‘nanotheranostics’ which enable to monitor therapy in a real-time manner so as to improve the safety and drug efficacy for personalized medicine. The distinctive features of NPs with the relatively smaller particle size along with a larger surface area and appealing optical and electrical properties ensure their role as carriers in designing nanotheranostics.
Unique Features:
  • Diagnostic Nanoparticle probes: SERS-tags for Label-free / SERS-labelled / SERS -kit
    (a) Ultrasensitive detection and imaging of human cancer / cancer biomarkers
    (b) Detection of infectious diseases
    (c) Early detection and monitoring of neurodegenerative disorders
  • Multimodal theranostic nano-probes based on SERS & fluorescence as diagnostic modalities and PDT, PTT, Chemo and immunotherapy.
    (a) Multimodal Cancer therapy by Targeted nano-carrier delivery system: Chemo-photo; Chemo-immuno therapy
    (b) Combined therapy on diabetic retinopathy using nano-delivery system

Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Medicinal plants have demonstrated their potential as a repository of bio-active molecules with promising therapeutic potential and represent an important pool for the identification of novel drug leads. In an attempt to investigate new phytochemical entities (NPCEs), naturally occurring phytomolecules are subjected to semi-synthetic modification which transform to pharmacologically active NPCEs as a lead candidate for clinical translation. In-depth investigations underlying molecular mechanisms were ruled out using detailed in vitro and in silico approach. In the area of chemical biology, an interdisciplinary team is investigating the intrinsic complexities of cell-surface glycans that impede to track the metabolic changes in cells. Metabolic glycan labelling (MGL) on the cell surfaces plays a pivotal role in cellular recognition like cell–cell communication and host–pathogen interactions etc. Moreover, fundamental structural changes have been observed in the course of many physiological processes which leads to the development of disease (e.g., cancer) progression. The extent of glycan imbalance causes genetic mutations which in turn reflected during the cell proliferation. The advent of bio-orthogonal chemistry, i.e., reactions among functional groups that do not interact with or interfere with biological systems, provided a platform for probing glycans on cellular system
Unique Features:
  • Semi-synthetic modification of bioactive natural products isolated from plants: New Phytochemical Entities (NPCEs) as advanced Hits / Leads towards anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic potential.
  • New Glycan labelling sugar analogues for Metabolic Glycan labelling (MGL) to investigate aberrant glycosylation in cancer cells by Raman imaging
  • Investigate new metabolic pathway and corelate with the disease progression by metabolic oligosaccharide engineering (MOE) strategy

Allopathic and Herbal Drug Formulations

Pharmaceutical formulation development connects the discovery of a new drug substance to the successful development of final commercial drug product. Formulation is the process in which active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) are combined in precious propositions with excipients to create a specific product to achieve the desired characteristics in the final products e.g. Taste, color, shelf-life, performance or effectiveness and patient compliances. We focus on developing various galenical formulations of both allopathic and herbal drugs.
Unique Features:
  • Development of knowledge base for pharmaceuticals formulations
  • All oral dosage forms (Tablets, Capsules, Syrups, Suspensions and Emulsions)
  • Topical semisolid dosage forms (Gels, Ointments and Creams).
  • Development of Generic drugs/Novel APIs/Poly-herbal drugs/Phytopharmaceuticals
  • Modernization of Ayurvedic formulations to produce patent & proprietary medicines
  • Novel Drug Delivery Systems (NDDS)

Structural Chemistry and Crystal Engineering

Our research focuses on crystal engineering methods to develop solid forms (polymorphs, cocrystals, salts, solid solutions, and eutectics) of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) with superior physicochemical properties and optimal mechanical properties to attain better tabletability. On the material research front, we work on developing flexible crystalline materials with unique nanomechanical response and emission characteristics.
Unique Features:
  • Solid forms of BCS class II drugs with superior physicochemical properties.
  • Polymorphic forms and comprehensive studies of their phase transformation.
  • Nanomechanical studies to understand the structure-mechanical correlations.
  • Flexible molecular crystals with unique emission characteristics.

Process Development Towards Chemical Entities

The team working on process development has successfully established different technologies for synthesizing active pharmaceutical ingredients (Nitazoxanide, Galidesivir, Molnupiravir and EIDD 1931), fluorescent dyes (red, blue, green and yellow) for security applications and agrochemicals (Flonicamid and spirotetramat). We focus on developing processes that utilize indigenous raw materials that are readily available.  Another important factor that we take care of is the reduction in number of process steps and also avoiding purification by column chromatography thereby decreasing the cost of production.
Unique Features:
  • Scalable processes utilizing easily available raw materials
  • Reduction in process steps and production cost
  • High yielding steps that doesn’t require expensive purifications
Research Highlights