Oils and coolants are used as heat transfer mediums in various industries including renewable energy, thermal power stations, nuclear cooling, transportation, aerospace and manufacturing. These conventional oils and coolants suffer from poor thermal conductivity and suboptimal heating/cooling is a major problem in these industries. This research project focuses on the synthesis, thermo-physical characterization, computational fluid dynamics and application studies of nanofluids and nanolubricants in improving thermal conductivity. This research project is also engaged in interdisciplinary research in heat transfer by combining nanotechnology, fluid mechanics, tribology, biotechnology and other fundamental sciences.
Development of innovative electrochemical energy storage devices
The imminent depletion of fossil fuels and the undesirable consequences of global warming and air pollution have stimulated the research for the development of green, sustainable and highly efficient alternative energy resources as well as energy storage devices. Among the existing electrochemical energy storage systems, batteries and supercapacitors are considered as the major electrical energy storage devices. Batteries can acquire high energy density by employing redox reactions at their electrodes, but they suffer from inadequate power density. On the other hand, supercapacitors are capable of delivering high power density with low energy density. Supercapattery, a new hybrid energy storage technology, has also recently gained interest since it combines the functions of a supercapacitor and a battery. Compared to a supercapacitor, the supercapattery device delivers a better energy density in addition to a higher power density. This project’s primary focus is on the development of composite nanomaterials as electrode materials in various energy storage technologies, covering rechargeable batteries (lithium/sodium ion batteries), supercapacitor and supercapattery.
Modified electrodes for electrochemical sensing of bioanalytes
The human body consists of various electroactive substances such as glucose, uric acid, ascorbic acid and dopamine. These substances help the body function but abnormal concentrations of these substances can lead to several diseases. Therefore, the quantitative determination of these substances (bioanalysis) is important. Electrochemical sensors for the measurement of such analytes of interest are ideally suited due to their high sensitivity and selectivity, portable field-based size, rapid response time, and cost. However, traditional unmodified electrodes suffer from poor detection limit, selectivity and stability. This project focuses on the synthesis of simple and robust electrochemical sensing materials for the measurement of analytes.
Energy harvesting using thermoelectrics
Approximately 60% of all primary energy sources that are combusted for residential, industrial, commercial and transportation purposes result in waste heat. There is a huge source of underutilized waste heat that has the potential to be converted to usable electricity. The heat is converted to electricity using thermoelectric modules, which can be defined as devices that generate an electric potential from a thermal gradient, or vice versa, without any actuating parts. The thermoelectric field is concerned with improving the efficiency of heat-to-electricity conversion and the flexibility of thermoelectric modules. This project focuses on employing 2D materials to fabricate flexible thermoelectric composites with improved Seebeck coefficient and electrical conductivity and lower thermal conductivity.
IoT-based wearable devices for remote health-care monitoring
Wearable technologies consist of an ocean of electronic devices that can be integrated with the human body either as an on-body device (such as a smart patch temperature sensor) or as a secondary device that can be connected to various body parts from wrist-wear, eye-wear, head-wear, foot-wear, neck-wear, body-wear and more. Based on reports, the wearable technology market will see over threefold growth from USD115.8 billion in 2021 to USD380 billion by 2028. Supercapacitors can deliver power instantaneously to the IoB device connected with it and help the person to monitor a particular function associated with his body. For example, a supercapacitor-powered smart patch glucose sensor can monitor the instantaneous glucose level in the body. It helps the person take necessary action in due course of time. Similarly, a sudden rise in temperature due to an illness can also be monitored if a supercapacitor-powered smart patch temperature sensor is used. This could be one of the most practical wearable devices used in postoperative care, ICU/HCU/NICU/PICU and Covid wards. The temperature of the patients can be monitored remotely from one place at all times instead of checking them individually at regular intervals. This project focuses on employing 2D materials to fabricate flexible and wearable IoT-based devices, particularly for remote health monitoring.
Polymer electrolytes for solar energy conversion
An electrolyte is a mediator in assisting electron transportation and completing the internal circuit between the electrodes of the solar energy conversion (i.e. dye-sensitized solar cells, DSSC). Its efficiencies have experienced a steady upward trend, approaching 14% for liquid electrolytes (LEs)-based DSSC. However, LEs will experience leakage and evaporation of their solvent and reduce the device’s performance. To overcome the critical limitations of LEs, polymer electrolytes have been explored to address safer and long-term device stability, albeit with comparatively low ionic conductivities and device performances. This project focuses on formulating promising polymer electrolytes with better properties by incorporating functional additives.
Development of electrochromic energy storage devices for smart windows application
Windows have evolved since the sixteenth century when they were constructed from stone mullions or timber frames with unglazed openings. As the century changes, the window also evolves in size, quality of panes, design, and purposes. Nowadays, researchers focus on producing smart windows to reduce buildings' energy consumption and improve human comfort. Smart window technology can be divided into several categories, such as electrochromic, photochromic, and thermochromic. Therefore, combining electrochromic windows with other applications to produce bifunctional smart window technologies such as electrochromic supercapacitors, photochromic, and thermochromic smart windows is intriguing. This project focuses on developing new composite materials and bringing the synergistic effects of each material to enhanced smart window applications.