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Our group focuses on the development of functional materials in an attempt to afford performance chemicals for smart applications using conventional wet chemical synthesis. The solution and surface chemistries of these smart materials are investigated for energy and energy management applications and for smart coatings and formulations. Most of our research activities are aligned to the missions of Government of India (Atmanirbhar Bharat, Make in India, Smart City Mission, Digital India, Skill India etc.) and are in accordance with the sustainability development goals.


Our group aims at building an expertise that spans basic organic synthesis, coordination chemistry, surface chemistry, electrochemistry and coating formulations. While focussing our thrust expertise on fundamental research to a priori design molecule-based materials with a set of predetermined properties and/or functions, we also partner with industries aiming at bridging the valley of death in translational research and transforming the acquired fundamental knowledge to demonstrate technologically relevant and marketable products. Therefore, we have initiated cross-sector partnerships with various industries in the field and it is our mission to utilize the already developed expertise and materials towards applications that are societally and industrially relevant.


I. Chromogenic Materials and Devices (Electrochromic/Thermochromic Materials)


Performance chemicals for smart applications is a huge market that remains largely untapped in India. We are interested in the development of cost-effective and scalable smart materials that change their color, transparency and light/heat throughput depending on applied voltage (electrochromic) or temperature (thermochromic). The applications of these smart materials include smart windows and smart glasses for industrial, domestic, architectural and automobile sectors, non-emissive displays, energy storage, supercapacitors, sign boards and indicators, etc.


We work on organic and metal-organic coordination assemblies with high optical contrast and stability, fast response time, high energy efficiency, reversibility and facile processability. These smart prototypes show 3-6 degree C reduction in indoor temperature as compared to simple glass installations, apart from ensuring need-based privacy. We also investigate the multifunctional applications of these smart systems including proof-of-concept energy storage devices, multi-state volatile memory and logic operators. These smart systems can be integrated with other clean energy technologies to provide access to a complete building integrated solution. Concomitant with the synthetic development of these materials, we also strive to address the major challenges in the fundamental understanding of smart thin films and coatings in terms of their photophysical mechanism, controllable thickness, optical density, and electron and mass transfer characteristics via selective fabrication processes.

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II. Materials for Smart Formulations and Coatings


The control over the wettability of any surface fundamentally determines its interaction with water. In this regard, artificial surfaces with high water repellency - superhydrophobic surfaces - have been of particular interest. A part of the research activities in our group is aimed at developing composite materials and formulations such that they (a) have high apparent contact angles with non-wetting and self-cleaning properties, (b) are cost effective, (c) are durable, (d) have anti-biofouling properties, (e) are ice-repellant, (f) are anti-microbial, (g) are anti-reflective and transparent for specific applications. Suitable chemical modification of these materials also impart additional properties such as fluorescence, conductivity and color tunability, leading to multifunctional coatings with profound applications in paint industry, solar coatings, automobile and marine sectors. Our group also work on the development of coordination based materials with inherent anti-microbial activity for application in biomedically relevant formulations and coatings. The development of such indigenous materials will deliver critical information on the design and development of new and high performance formulations and coatings beyond academic interest, thereby catering to the scientific pursuit of developing efficient and multifunctional coatings with specific industrial requirements.

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Patent Applications: 0021NF2021, 2021; Indian Patent Application 202111015509, 2021; Indian Patent Application 202011038721, 2020

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III. Energy Materials


Metal-organic systems including coordination polymers and metal-organic frameworks have attracted immense attention across different fields of science as materials with numerous functional applications. Such materials are shown to have applications in catalysis, separation, sorption, mass transport, sensing, host-guest interactions, etc., of which energy storage and conversion has been of tremendous interest. 2D hybrid materials with an inherent porous architecture are potential candidates for electrochemical energy storage and conversion, especially as electrode materials in devices like supercapacitors and batteries. Until recently, carbon-based materials were exclusively used as active electrode materials in these devices. Out of all non-carbon materials, metal-organic systems  are one of the relatively less investigated class of electrode materials, generally as pyrolytic precursors for carbon. We are interested in developing redox active metal-organic materials with combined electro-optical properties of metals and conjugated organic ligands possessing a unique coherance of stability and desirable properties as energy materials. The combination of high surface areas, extended ordering, crystallinity, high packing density and favorable morphological features along with several tunable properties makes this class of materials promising candidates for non-carbon energy materials with excellent performance especially in electrochemical energy storage systems.

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