Photosciences and Photonics : Suraj Soman » Profile

Dr. Suraj’s scientific quest started from school days itself by winning awards at State and National Level School Science Fairs. An alumnus and gold medalist of Mahatma Gandhi University securing First Rank (99.4%) for his Bachelors and Masters in Chemistry (91.3%), Dr. Suraj obtained his Ph.D. from Dublin City University, Ireland followed by post-doctoral tenure at Michigan State University, USA. He was also fortunate to associate with few industries like SolarPrint Ireland, JCAP and Dow during his scientific career. He is a recipient of many prestigious awards including CSIR Young Scientist Award (2020), R. L. Thakur Young Scientist Award (2019), Best Emerging Young Scientist Award (2019), Kerala State Young Scientist Award (2018), BRICS Young Scientist Award (2017), International Strategic Cooperation Award (2015), DST-Inspire Faculty Award (2014), Indira Gandhi National Fellowship (2006), KVPY Fellowship (2004) etc. With his research he aims to increase the contribution of solar energy to the global energy mix by: (i) development of indigenous solar photovoltaic technologies for converting sunlight to electricity; and (ii) developing metal-based catalysts to efficiently store solar energy into clean hydrogen fuels.

Dr. Suraj started his independent research career as DST-Inspire Faculty at CSIR-NIIST on May 2014 and later on continued as Scientist at Chemical Sciences and Technology Division from October 2018 onwards. His prime research focus at NIIST is to address basic science issues related to new molecules, materials and methods for photovoltaics, in particular for Dye-sensitized Solar Cells (DSCs), which being the most efficient technology for harnessing indoor/artificial/diffused lights and the best available technology for semi-transparent coloured facades for BIPV applications. His group is involved in systematic variations of components and interrogating the performance limiting parameters with help of a range of home-made perturbation techniques. The general lessons learned from this exercise is ultimately used to develop design rules for next generation DSCs comprised of molecules and materials which are capable of overcoming the kinetic and energetic constraints of current generation photovoltaics. CSIR-NIIST has been making healthy strides in the area of renewable energy. Dr. Suraj’s team is focused on developing creative and out-of-the-box approaches utilizing the knowledge generated in laboratory to solve fundamental scientific problems and systematic transformation of this knowledge to demonstrate technologically relevant products to market in near future.

Dr. Suraj played the leadership role in setting up India’s first truly indigenous module fabrication line for dye-sensitized solar modules partnering with industry supported by DST-SERI initiative, which was commissioned at CSIR-NIIST in October 2018 and was licensed to Elixir Technologies, Bangalore on November 2019 for further commercialization. He is spearheading indigenous equipment development for 3rd generation photovoltaics through systematic industry-academia collaborations in a way to exploit these technologies for the future.