Co-Principal Investigator A Subrahmanyam IIT Madras, Chennai
The main aim of the project is to develop cost-effective, multiplexed label-free fiber optic array biosensor system for simultaneous detection of up to 7 or more waterborne pathogens that are prevalent in Indian sub-continent.
Multi-WAP proposes to develop multiplexed, rapid, accurate, label-free, and real-time method for continuous monitoring the multiple waterborne (faecal) pathogens present in water samples at low cost and high sensitivity (>90%). The analytical/diagnostic platform to be developed is an optical absorbance biosensor, with the prerequisite of having the ability to perform online measurements. Our ambition is to improve the analytical method further to function as a highly efficient screening method for the early detection of life-threatening waterborne diseases in resource-limited settings.
This project addresses a clearly identified need for tests which can significantly surpass the performance of the currently available water monitoring tests. Throughout this project, special attention will be paid to both end-user requirements (performance, cost, ease-of-use) and to manufacturability. The combination of low cost and high accuracy will be achieved through a unique integration of several state-of-the-art concepts, which the partners have separately developed and of which the integration maturity in Multi-WAP platform has to be tested.
IIT (Madras) shall develop the novel fiber optic sensor array with optoelectronic instrumentation and software. The German Research partner (IOT, Braunschweig) shall perform critical surface modifications of the fiber probes. The German industrial partner (LIONEX) shall produce highly specific antibodies to surface biomarkers of E. coli as model analytes and for waterborne faecal pathogens as final arrays followed by their immobilisation on biosensor. The Indian industrial partner (ubio) shall integrate in the device assembly and evaluate the final lab-device using model and pathogen contaminated water samples (along with LIONEX).
LIONEX shall do evaluation and compare the sensor performance with industry standard. Today, there are no analytical methods on the market that fulfil the criteria of being rapid, accurate, label-free, and online for the detection of waterborne pathogens. This is especially true when it comes to screening situations or the performance of diagnoses in resource-limited settings.Read
Dissolved water contaminants of inorganic (arsenic, chromate, fluoride, uranium, nitrate or strontium) and organic (pesticides, plasticizers, pharmaceuticals, alkylphenols, endocrine disrupters) origin play an important role in drinking water quality and health. Water guideline values are usually in the ppb (µg/L) region, which makes detection difficult.
Monitoring of such contaminants is time consuming and expensive which poses a significant challenge especially for water supplies in rural areas and/or in developing countries, which present a vast, hugely unexplored and scientifically challenging market. The development of suitable sensor technologies using advanced materials that can be integrated to hand-operated pumps or decentralized water supplies is the subject of this proposal.
The materials will interact with pollutants by covalent, supramolecular or ionic interactions and the detection will subsequently take place by excitation and read-out of the colorimetric signal via commonly available devices such as i-phones. Atomically precise clusters with specific interactions with inorganic and organic contaminants developed by IIT Madras for the detection of heavy metal ions in water at ultra trace levels will be incorporated in electrospun fibres and porous substrates
This technology will be developed further into a sensor device for arsenic in drinking water. Simultaneously the same technology will be expanded further to address specific challenges of chromate, fluoride, a select number of pesticides and alkylphenols (for example) for proof of concept.
The key output from this project will be a working prototype of a visual arsenic sensor systembased on atomically precise clusters incorporated in electrospun membranes (nanofibers spunonto porous membranes or clusters immobilized in porous membranes) which will be;
Semitransparent solar cells could find enormous applications from a window panel to automobile roof top solutions. By definition they require semitransparent active layers and transparent electrodes. The current recipes for realization of a large area technology suffer from process limitations related to deposition of transparent conducting electrodes (TCE) with sufficient transparency and low resistivity.
Other issues are related to electrode stability, upscaling to large areas and flexible substrates. There is also a big demand to replace the expensive indium tin oxide as TCE. Additionally, there is a need to develop printing compatible TCEs which can be applied to any type of surface without the further necessity of welding or soldering. We have demonstrated that micrometer cracks formed in a polymer film can be used as a template to deposit metals and by the lift-off of the polymer template, hybrid metal network TCEs with high transmission and low resistivity can be developed.
The project aims at a) examining the feasibility of printing methods to develop large area TCE metal network b) synthesizing the metal network TCE on flexible substrates such as PET or PEN or paper, c) an alternative metalation method based on solution processing techniques and/or incorporating graphene and d) integrating these TCEs in large area solar cells suitable for window applications.
The uniqueness of this approach is its simplicity and suitability for any kind of metals and their precursors. Since we can control the metal fill factor and the structural width of the metal network by tuning the width of cracks in the polymer film, the conductivity and transmittance of such TCEs can be tuned. In collaboration with the industry partners, the chemistry and the process will be adapted to fulfill the objectives. The proposed work will provide viable solutions to the pertinent issues related to fabrication of ITO-free TCEs.
The application of these electrodes is extendable to other applications such as thermal heaters, sensors, and electrochromic or thermochromic devices. This innovative concept of nanostructured hybrid TCE is a big step towards smart window applications suitable for building integrated photovoltaics.Read
Globally, nearly 6,000 children die each day due to water-related illnesses. Treatment based approaches must be implemented to minimize these deaths. Rapid (< 1 hr) detection platforms covering most waterborne pathogens of concern, their indicators, and associated sources of antibiotic resistance bacteria on a single chip are urgently needed.
Such platforms must be operable under field conditions with personnel requiring minimal training. This proposal focuses on such a multiplexed chip by adapting an already developed robust and low cost platform (Gene-Z) for on-site water pathogen detection. Genetic markers associated with at least a dozen waterborne pathogens, indicators, and antibiotic resistance bacteria are included on the chip including viability testing to be validated with appropriate sensitivity and specificity.
The proposed project has three objectives: 1) Provision of waterborne pathogens chips and detection systems, 2) Integration of Live vs. Dead (Viability) Protocol on the Chip, and 3) Field Validation, Deployment, Support and Feedback. When fully developed and validated, the chip and platform will provide the a number of key benefits compared to other existing technologies and approaches including fast results, ease of use, specificity, sensitivity, and low cost.
Differentiating characteristic compared to other molecular biology technologies include multiplexing of bacteria and protozoan, use of multiple virulence markers, live vs. dead differentiation, and measurement of antibiotic resistance genes. The consortium combines academic and industry partners with expertise in molecular biology, bioanalytics, and on-site detection technology development.Read
A promising alternative for time consuming measurements of pathogens in water is the detection of fecal pigments (FP) as indicator compounds by 2D fluorescence. Pigment analysis is of high efficiency and used for early warning against cyanotoxins in water since a long time.
However, while algae pigments can be measured directly, the fecal pigments are of lower fluorescence effect and therefore the sensitivity as well as selectivity of the measurement has to be improved. The project follows the strategy of selective pre-concentration of the analytes, a method which is online practicable and widely used for trace detection of organic contaminants, e.g. using LC-MSMS. Because of the broad peaks of fluorescence, a new calibration software based on multivariate approach is urgent.
The general project outcome is the online-detection of pathogen-like pollution in water. In detail, theoutcome of the project is described a follow:
Potential users of the new technique could be: drinking and wastewater treating companies as well as companies of food production.Read
Nowadays, in India electrical power is a most essential item. Especially for computers, communication and healthcare systems an uninterruptable power supply is needed for correct functioning. To solve the problem of power failures, a standard solution is the installation of a diesel generator supported by a battery stack to provide power in the moment of the blackout.
These batteries are costly, the service life is limited and often they are the most unreliable component in the whole emergency power system (EPS). To solve this drawbacks battery stacks for similar applications are replaced by supercapacitors (supercaps) in western countries. Compared to conventional batteries or accumulator solutions, the advantages of supercaps are the maintenance-free operation, resistance to high temperature fluctuations, low weight and long service life. Applied properly, supercaps could sustain more than 500,000 charge/discharge cycles with efficiency well above 90 %. Further, supercaps do not face the risk of destruction by deep discharge like batteries and hence are less susceptible. The usage of supercaps for small and medium sized EPS, especially in India, has one big disadvantage: The high initial costs of the conventional supercaps.
To solve this problem, the Indo-German project consortium has the intention to create a new LowCostEPS based on mass-printed smart supercaps for small and medium sized applications in the power range of 2.5 till 10 kVA. The LowCostEPS should bridge the time of power interruption until the existing diesel generator provides enough power to run a proper energy supply again. The core idea of the proposed project is to use conventional printing methods, such as gravure, offset or flexographic printing, for the production of low-cost supercaps. Conventional printing methods are well-known for their high productivity and cost-effectiveness due to the mass-production possibility.
Especially in printed electronics these technologies are suitable for mass-production of electronic components with different geometries and layer thicknesses on a flexible substrate in a roll-to-roll process (R2R). Applying such methods, it is possible to produce liquid processed printed energy storages with good electrochemical properties over a large area in a simple way. There are two typical setups, a.) roll-type and b.) multilayer-type, for conventional capacitor types available. The used electrode areas of these two types are prepared by coating and winding or coating, cutting and stacking. Also in post-press production of print products these technology steps are well known. Beside these technologies different other technologies like folding, die-cutting and stamping are used in roll-to-roll or roll-to-sheet post-press production.
The post-press production together with the printing of the final electrode shape, the right amount and shape of electrolyte and shape of the current collector enables a complete inline processing of the final supercap stack. One example of a possible setup for such an inline produced supercapacitor is shown in Figure 5c.) zigzag-type. This type is not producible with conventional coating methods which makes inline printing and post-press very productive and cost competitive.
Among others, the most important objectives of this research project are to develop a carbon-based energy storage in the form of a supercap by means of mass-printing processes on thin paper substrate with a power density of 1Wh/kg and to develop a low-cost circuitry to charge/discharge the supercap that provides power to the system.Read
Hearing impairment is one of the most common forms of disability and is widespread in countries like India. Children in rural areas suffer from this because of malnutrition and inadequate medical facilities. In urban areas many adults are continuously exposed to high levels of noise, particularly in their work environments (e.g., in factories or construction sites). With regular screening, hearing impairment may be detected early and treated.
While screening of newborns for hearing loss is slowly gaining momentum in India, it needs to be more widespread. However, monitoring children and adults regularly is almost non-prevalent. This is because the currently available screening equipment is expensive. Further, such equipment may only be used by specialists, who are in shortage. In this project we will completely re-engineer such a screening device in order to (i) significantly bring down its cost, and (ii) enable it to be used by laypersons in the same manner that we use blood pressure monitors or thermometers. More widespread availability of low-cost screening devices will enable their usage in schools, small healthcare centers, factories and construction sites. This in turn will help with the detection of the onset of hearing impairment and the affected patients may be referred for treatment early on, thereby significantly improving their chances of recovery or to prevent further deterioration. However, in order to significantly reduce the cost of screening devices, the newly designed devices will need to use a completely different hardware and software architecture, without sacrificing the quality of the screening. Developing such architectures and evaluating them are the main scientific goals of this project. In particular, we will rely on two main techniques: (i) offload the involved signal processing algorithms onto a mobile phone, and (ii) instead of using expensive and specialized probes, as is the case in existing screening equipment, we will use commercially available off-the-shelf components. This will introduce significant measurement distortions, which will be corrected using suitable signal processing algorithms. Since the usage and penetration of mobile phones even in rural areas in India is relatively high, designs based on such solutions will bring down the manufacturing cost. Further, since processors in mobile phones are now very powerful, the quality of screening may not be significantly sacrificed.Read
Cornea has an intricate arrangement of collagen fibers encased in a cellular matrix. It has remarkable healing properties. Thus, surgical refractive procedures are one of the most common treatments in the world today. However, it is also well known that the cornea has a biomechanical response, which plays a significant role in refractive outcomes.
At the same time, it is vital that biomechanically weaker corneas are eliminated from the surgical population to avoid the risk of ectasia. There are newer flapless techniques of laser vision correction, which were developed with the hypothesis that it leaves the cornea biomechanically uncompromised. If the collagen in cornea degenerates, then the cornea becomes steeper and vision worsens. There are techniques available now where the cornea can be biomechanically strengthened. Biomechanics of the cornea also plays an important role in determination of intraocular pressure, which is the still the primary determinant of ocular hypertension. Thus, disease diagnostics and treatment planning require knowledge of biomechanical properties of the cornea. Biomechanics can also play an important role in monitoring treatment outcomes. There are several techniques being researched to quantify the in vivo corneal biomechanics, but none have been translated to the clinic so far. Thus, significant advancements in treatments are lacking. This project aims to develop a next generation dynamic Scheimpflug imaging device and biomechanical software analytics for in vivo quantification of corneal viscoelasticity. The specific aims of the project are to develop this device with high temporal resolution and location specific based corneal deformation measurement in response to air-puff, to develop fast computational algorithm for inverse estimation of biomechanical properties, and to validate the device and software in ex vivo and in vivo human subjects, both in normal and disease conditions.Read
Industry aims optimised production of tailored components with improved properties by ensuring an economically and energetic efficient production. Materials are one of the key enabling technologies for products and industrial processes to become more competitive and sustainable or even allowing for completely new, knowledge-based materials with tailored properties, new products and advanced production processes.
This requires complex microstructures and new strategies for process design and control. Integrated computational materials engineering (ICME) is an emerging area of interest for both academic and industrial research, leading to considerable savings in the cost and time for design, optimisation and commercialization of new materials and processes in industrial applications.
The bar steel making industry together with the forging community is an example for long and complex process chains, being realized by many SME sized companies with heterogeneous production scenarios for the manufacturing of very specific components with various requirements concerning mechanical, thermal or corrosive properties. This heterogeneity of materials, products and processes with many different stakeholders and various properties requirements hinders innovation remarkably. Advanced numerical methods offer an opportunity for an efficient and effective design process bringing together all relevant stakeholders virtually and offering a process and company spanning design and optimisation approach being realized beforehand of material and component processing. The realization of such a scale and process spanning numerical modelling scenario to be available for generation of material-by-design is one of the key objectives of Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME).
This project proposal aims the development of an energetic efficient production of forged components (eg gears) from microalloyed dual phase steel with reduced distortion. The material and production design will be realized by means of a generic ICME platform. The scientific approach is based on integrative numerical material and process simulation spanning over length scale from nanometer (precipitates and dislocations) up to component scale of meters and taking into account all relevant process steps including hot forming, annealing and local final material properties of the component in application. The research plan consists of optimising, parallelizing and combining existing numerical tools (MatCalc, MICRESS, Simufact) on various length scales into a generic ICME platform, developing missing models and algorithms, identifying model and material parameters by tailored physical process simulation (dilatometry, thermo mechanical process simulator) and advanced microstructural characterisation (SEM, EBSD, TEM), optimizing alloy system and process parameters and validating the numerical results by pilot production of exemplarily forged gears for automotive industry.
This approach will offer a model tool-box aiming to provide an innovative, cost and time efficient design engineering for new steel materials and advanced components including manufacturing processes. This new numerical approach will be validated exemplarily by developing a cost effective microalloyed dual phase steel concept for gear production.Read
The Government of India predicts dramatic demand increases for energy over the next 20 years which brings in several problems to agricultural dependent Indian economy. An easily accessible alternative to energy imports and nuclear power is the abundantly available waste biomass to produce biogas through anaerobic digestion (AD).
Mass flows of waste generated from slaughterhouse, fruit- and veg-market waste are rarely utilized for recovery of energy and nutrients. Biogas from this waste material could be an important and flexible energy source for local consumer with high supply guarantee. In most towns/cities of developing countries including India, slaughter house wastes are disposed along with other municipal solid wastes (MSW) in open dumping leading to contamination of air, water and land. However, with respect to resources and energy reliability, these wastes are highly valuable and regular/reliable sources of bio-energy. Treatment of slaughter waste alone for bio-energy generation in anaerobic processes is not effective in terms of optimum utilisation and performance of treatment system. Animal wastes contain more of proteineous matter with high amount of nitrogen content and hence these wastes have low Carbon to Nitrogen (C/N) ratio. It is advantageous to add other organic wastes available in the Chennai city, like vegetable market waste, food wastes, agro-residues, industrial organic waste etc. for co-digestion process to enhance the biogas production in anaerobic treatment process, and to improve the performance of the biomethanisation system and overall sustainability. In co-fermentation of organic waste, the German and Indian industries/institutes have complemented experiences on sustainable anaerobic technologies for recovery of renewable energy in the form of biogas.
RESERVES proposes to investigate various combinations by co-digestion of wastes from slaughterhouses, vegetable market etc. in laboratory scale reactors and suitable combination will be studied in pilot-plant for biogas production and pre-treatment like bio-extrusion.
Concept and management for full scale implementation (e.g. PPP, BOT) will be identified and transfer of knowledge takes place during the pilot scale study and with special workshops and training. Sustainability assessment of the process and the marketable product qualities using LCA and carbon footprints investigations will be carried out. Sustainable ways for biogas and digestate utilization will be investigated. Herewith material and energy flows will be optimized along with biogas upgradation and utilization efficiency. To ensure the acceptance of this project among various stakeholders, and to confirm the exemplarity of this project, capacity building by demonstration workshops/ training programme will be organised.Read
Considering the significance of the global challenge of future energy production and the role of photovoltaics within it as well as the conditions of international division of labour, the enhancement of links between Germany and India on the field of research and development in thin-film photovoltaics is of strategic importance, and hence one of the major objectives of the project.
Cu(In,Ga)(Se,S)2 (CIGS) as absorber layer constitutes one of the most important thin-film technologies, which are challenging silicon-based solar cells. The main drawback of this system is that it contains the comparatively rare elements indium and gallium, the availability and price of which are suspected to worsen in the future and to reduce the economic potential. Within the project, two approaches for the reduction of these earth metals will be followed and compared. One approach is the reduction of absorber layer thickness while maintaining power conversion efficiency, the other is the replacement of indium and gallium by tin and zinc, leading to the material Cu2ZnSn(Se,S)4 known as Kesterite, which shows promising photovoltaic properties.
Both approaches include optimized preparation processes based on deeper understanding of physics and chemistry of film formation. The preparation of single-phase material with enhanced photovoltaic properties requires in-depth investigations of condensation, crystallization and phase transition processes, which are one of the major objectives of the project. In-situ characterization of layer growth and ex-situ characterization of layers and complete devices will be applied in order to clarify the correlations between process parameters and photovoltaic properties. For both approaches, industrial scale model processes will be realized, which will allow for study of issues relevant for fabrication. These results will be used to evaluate and benchmark both approaches against each other. The results of the project will remove significant road blocks in the development path of thin-film photovoltaics and to considerably influence research and development strategy of contributing partners and other players in the field. A German leading manufacturer of production equipment for photovoltaic systems, an Indian leading company proving comprehensive turnkey services for PV solutions for both, grid connected as well as off-grid applications, and two highly experienced and well-equipped research institutes will collaborate within the project. Due to this unique combination of competences and facilities, the project is a chance to clarify pressuring questions of future development of thin-film photovoltaic technology. An important contribution to the development of the renewable energy sector will be made with a focus on tailor-made production equipment in Germany and large-scale fabrication of solar cells for the world market in India.Read
Europe and India face an epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes (T2D). Development of T2D strongly correlate and very often predisposes to increased risk of many disabling chronic diseases including Lower Extremity Amputations (LEA). LEA affects about 15% of diabetic individuals during their life time. Disturbingly, the five-year mortality rate following amputation is reported at 40-70% suggesting the need for proper wound management strategies.
The risk of developing diabetic foot ulcers (DFU) for an individual with T2D is influenced by a complex interplay amongst multiple factors.The lack of protective sensation along with increased pressure due to neuropathy, leads to foot ulceration and thence rapidly colonized by bacteria leading to extensive infection. Infection is one of the major causes for delayed wound healing due to bacteremia and sepsis. Foot infections further substantially increases rates of morbidity, cost of treatment of DFU and also the risk of LEA significantly. Bacterial communities show diverse morphological and physiological characteristics and their bioburden in DFU show a distinct pattern of antibiotic resistance which significantly delays wound healing. Though infected ulcers require proper antibiotic therapy, rapid and accurate detection of polymicrobial communities in wound environment is critical in proper wound management. In this polymicrobial setting, we wish to develop a microfluidic based lab on chip for rapid and accurate detection of different types of bacteria, their virulence/fitness factors and antibiotic resistant genes that may contribute to dominance of certain types in DFU settings. The detection module would aid clinicians in decision-making process to improve specific outcomes that would concomitantly improve wound healing per se in DFU scenario. Further it would provide a better understanding of the underlying microbial communities to develop treatment regimens to suit responses to individuals’ lifestyle modifications.Read
The Centre for Non-destructive Evaluation (CNDE) at Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) in collaboration with the Non-destructive Testing Division of the BAM will develop newnext generation sensing and measurement technologies that will bring a paradigm change in the ability to control the manufacturing processes in core industries.
The development of laser thermography technique will enable defect detection, material property measurement, and process parameter measurement under hostile conditions.The use of non-contact, hostile environment sensing technologies will move the quality assurance into the early manufacturing process, thereby significantly improving the impact to the industries. The industry collaborators for this project will be InfraTec GmbH, a leading manufacturer of infrared camera based technologies, and Dhvani Research, a leading Indian NDE software and systems developer. Hence, the core team of IITM, BAM, Dhvani Research, and InfraTec GmbH will be responsible for developing fundamental understanding, instrumentation, validation, and robust packaging of the Laser Thermography technique for industrial applications. Additionally, the Laser Thermography technique will be evaluated under realistic manufacturing conditions through the support of two leading manufacturing industries in India viz. Tata Steel and Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd (BHEL), who will provide the domain expertise as well as the validation platforms that will be required for the demonstration of the Laser Thermography technique under hostile manufacturing conditions. The laser-thermography technologies developed by this team will be adapted for 3 case studies at Tata Steel’s Jamshedpur steel manufacturing plant and BHEL’s boiler manufacturing plant in Tiruchirapally, both in India. Due to the unique requirements of each manufacturing process, the technologies will be necessarily modified, leading to new measurement techniques that will be commercialized by the industrial partners Dhvani Research and InfraTec GmbH through a commercial agreement with the academic partners. In addition, joint journal publications, joint patents, joint workshops, several secondments of personnel between the partners, masters and doctoral theses are anticipated.Read