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Research Projects

Relevant to industry and society

Researchers at NIIT University (NU), including its faculty, work on projects of societal and industrial relevance. They are trained to develop and/or enhance research competencies across a wide research spectrum including mitigating groundwater pollution, development of green fuel, etc. All the projects have led to several publications and many of these projects attract funding from government agencies and research bodies.

Selected ongoing and completed projects (sponsored and internal)

NU offers advanced instruction and research training in environmental chemistry and environmental technology leading to a PhD. Special focus is on development of advanced technologies and materials for water purification, environmental technology, and groundwater chemistry.
The Green Chemistry research at NU covers a broad range of subjects and includes both fundamental and applied research. We mainly concentrate on developing new applications and offering practical solutions for existing tedious conventional chemical reaction protocols. This includes upgrading of the processes, both in terms of their environmental performance and efficiency, through the application of catalysis, alternative solvents and reagents.

We also have a special interest in the designing of novel nanomaterial via deposition / immobilisation /stabilisation of various transition metal nanoparticles (e.g., Fe, Co, Pd, Cu, Ru) on Task-Specific Ionic Liquids (TSILs) as environmentally compatible supports. Unlike conventionally synthesised nanoparticles, supports offer stabilisation (additional stability to nanoparticles) and control (controllable particle size and potentially shapes) as well as the improved material reusability required for tedious organic transformation process and biologically active molecule synthesis.

Sponsored project

Selective Hydrogenation of CO2 by Task Specific Ionic Liquid Supported Ru on TiO2
  • Principal Investigator: Dr Vivek Srivastava
  • Funding agency: Department of Science and Technology; ₹ 22.36 lakh
  • Duration: 2013-16
  • Objectives
    1. Synthesis of NR2 (R=H and CH3) functionalised imidazolium, ammonium and pyridinium based ionis liquids. Complete characterisation of functionalised ionic liquids using NMT and IR.
    2. Synthesis of the Ru-nanoparticles by the decomposition of [Ru(COD)COD)] or hydrogen reduction of [Ru(COD)(2-methylallyl)2] (COD = 1,5-cyclooctadiene and COT= 1,3,5-cylooctatriene).
    3. Grafting of metal nano particles on TiO2 using functionalised ionic liquids.
    4. Complete characterisation of the nanocomposites by means of a series of techniques including SEM, FT-IR, XRD, BET etc.

Selected Publications

  • V. Srivastava*, “Amine‐functionalised SBA-15 supported Ru Nanocatalyst for the hydrogenation CO2 to formic acid, Catalysis Surveys from Asia,” vol. 25, 192–205, 2021.
  • P. Gautam, V. Srivastava*, “Magnetic Ru nanocatalysts for sustainable hydrogenation of CO2 gas to formic acid,” Catalysis Letters, 2021.
  • V. Srivastava*, CO2 hydrogenation over Ru-NPs supported amine-functionalised SBA-15 catalyst: Structure–reactivity relationship study,” Catalysis Letters 2021.
  • V. Srivastava*, “Functionalised hydrotalcite tethered ruthenium catalyst for carbon sequestration reaction,” Catalysis Letters, 148, 1879–1892, 2018.
  • V. Srivastava*, “Active ruthenium (0) nanoparticles catalysed Wittig-type olefination reaction,” Catalysis Letters, 147, 693-703, 2017.
Understanding the water molecular dynamics around various solute molecules is the main interest of this research. Techniques like THz, IR, Raman, UV/Vis and NIR allows the detection of spectroscopic vibrational signatures produced by solute-solvation phenomena which have various real-world applications in physical, chemical and life sciences, such as ion channelling, enzyme activity sensing, ion pair chromatograph and its applications in health monitoring, etc.

The extensive role of water in various physical, chemical, biological and medicinal mechanisms makes it a pioneer candidate for scientific approaches, to reveal its critical hydration phenomena with distinct solute molecules. Within this study the prime focus is to explore solvation effects arising in aqueous solutions, due to the presence of ions like alkali and alkali earth, d-block transition elements and lanthanide metals with their counter chloride, bromide, iodide, perchlorate, sulphate etc., sugars, perovskites and organic compounds.
Spectroscopic investigation of ion induced hydration effects on molecular structure of water and human blood (A Raman, IR and UV/Vis assisted vibrational spectroscopic investigation of solvated ions (Na+, Li+, Mg2+, Zn2+, Mn2+ and Cl-, Br-) in water and human blood samples.
  • Principal Investigator: Dr Vinay Sharma
  • Funding agency: NU Ignition Grant, ₹ 2.81 lakh
  • Duration: NU Ignition Grant, ₹ 2.81 lakh

Selected publications

  • Sharma V., Schlücker S., Srivastava S.K., “Origin of the blue‐shifted hydrogen bond in the vibrational Raman spectra of pyridine–water complexes: A density functional theory study,” J. Raman Spectroscopy, Wiley Analytical Science, July 2021.
The effect of non-uniform slot suction/injection on a mixed convection laminar boundary layer flow over a cone/wedge/stretching sheet/plate is the main interest of this research. In many cases, mass suction or injection from a wall slot (i.e., mass suction or injection occurs in a small porous section of the body surface, while there is no suction or injection in the remaining part of the body surface) into the boundary layer is of interest for various eventual applications including thermal protection, fuel injection in ramjet engines, skin friction reduction on high-speed aircraft.

The potential application of non-uniform slot suction/injection is widely used in the aircraft for reducing heat transfer across turbine blades and controlling transition and /or separation of boundary layers over airplane control surfaces. Non-similar solutions are obtained numerically by solving coupled nonlinear partial differential equations using an implicit finite difference scheme in combination with the quasi-linearisation technique.

Selected publications

  • Ganapathirao, M., Ravindran, R. and Pop, I., “Non-uniform slot suction (injection) on an unsteady mixed convection flow over a wedge with chemical reaction and heat generation or absorption,” International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, 67, 1054-1061, 2013.
  • R. Ravindran, Ganapathirao, M. and Pop, I., “Effects of chemical reaction and heat generation/absorption on unsteady mixed convection MHD flow over a vertical cone with non-uniform slot mass transfer,” International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, 73, 743-751, 2014.
  • Ganapathirao, M., Revathi, G. and Ravindran, R., “Unsteady mixed convection boundary layer flow over a vertical cone with non-uniform slot suction (injection),” Meccanica, 49 ,673-686, 2014.
  • Ganapathirao, M., Ravindran, R. and Momoniat, E., “Effects of chemical reaction, heat and mass transfer on an unsteady mixed convection boundary layer flow over a wedge with heat generation/absorption in the presence of suction or injection,” Heat and Mass Transfer, 55, 289-300, 2015.

Ecotoxicological Assessment of Degraded Residues of Commercialised Tio2 Based Nanomaterials on Bacteria

  • Funding agency: Department of Biotechnology
  • Duration: 2013-16
    The toxicity of titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2) was evaluated against bacteria. Two different forms of nanoparticles were selected, P25 size ~21nm and nanocomposite Eusolex T-2000 purchased from Merck, used extensively in sunscreen. Two different bacteria were selected one was E.coli and others was Pseudomonas. Results indicate that both types of nanoparticles were toxic towards E.coli but Pseudomonas was resistant. The reason behind this variation was Pseudomonas is an environmental stain which produces exopolysacharide (EPS) in the medium which act as a physical barrier between nanoparticle and bacteria and result into less toxicity. This indicates that biological properties of bacteria also affect the nanoparticles toxicity.

    Bacteria release different polysaccharides from their surface like siderophore in the case of Pseudomonas which decrease the interaction between nanoparticles and bacteria and results into less toxicity. Therefore, in the environment EPS producing strains will be more resistant towards nanoparticles. All these data provide fundamental knowledge essential to a better assessment of nanoparticle toxicity. Similarly, the surface properties of bacteria also change with the growth of bacteria which ultimately affects the toxicity. Toxicity of nanoparticles not only depends upon the physiochemical properties of nanoparticles but also on the surface properties of bacteria.
    In the area of nano-catalysis, we are designing and synthesising a series of metal nano particles supporting on organic and inorganic (silica, metal oxides, metals, MOF etc) supports such as MMT Clay, hydrotalcite clay, Silica, Zeolite, PEG, Ionic liquids, etc. We are exploiting nano-catalysts for the development of sustainable reaction protocols for various challenging processes like CO and CO2 capture and conversion to fine chemicals (formic acid and ethanol), C-H bon activation, C-C coupling, olefination and hydrogenation reactions.
    Pollution of groundwater and soil is a worldwide problem that has resulted in uptake and accumulation of toxic chemicals in food chains and harmed the flora and fauna of the affected habitats. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs, carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and pesticides) and metals are resistant to environmental degradation through chemical, biological, and photolytic processes. The persistence of POPs and metals in the environment leads to bioaccumulation in human and animal tissue and biomagnification in food chains and therefore has potential significant impact on human health and the environment.

    The ongoing research at NIIT University (NU) has led to the development of microbiological solutions for the bioremediation of soils contaminated with chlorinated pesticide endosulfan and chlorpyrifos. Further, using molecular tools, the metabolic fate of these chlorinated pesticides has been elucidated and the decontaminated potential of the microbes has been demonstrated.

    The increasing heavy metal pollution has posed a major threat to the health of life forms including humans. Metals such as lead, nickel and cadmium are extremely toxic. The intracellular accumulation is desirable for metal removal. However, metal toxicity and cell death have to be avoided and that is to be done by over-expressing metal binding and metal sequestering protein. A microbial method for the treatment of heavy metal containing liquid effluents is proposed wherein metal hyper accumulator bacteria will be generated through genetic and biochemical modifications. To fulfil this, seven bacteria were isolated from metal contaminated site. On the basis of 16S rDNA sequence relatedness, these were identified as Enterococcus sp. These isolates were found to be tolerant to multiple metals like Ni, Zn, Cd, Pb, Al, Fe, Mn, Cu, Co and Hg. Growth profiles showed that these isolates tolerate Ni (50 ppm), Pb (1000 ppm), Cd (70 ppm) and Al (150 ppm).

    Selected Publications

    • Kamaljeet Kaur Sekhon, Sunil Khanna and Swaranjit Singh Cameotra, “Biosurfactant Production and Potential Correlation with Esterase Activity,” J Pet Environ Biotechnol: 133-137, 3, 2012.
    • Purnima Khanna, Dinesh Goyal, Sunil Khanna, “Characterization of pyrene utilizing Bacillus spp. from crude oil contaminated soil,” Brazilian Journal of Microbiology: 43, 2, 606-617, 2012.
    • Narayan Kumar, “Characterization of temperature inducible promoters from a novel rolling circle replicating plasmid of Enterococcus faecium DJ1,” Plasmid: 67, 211-226, 2012.
    • Kamaljeet Kaur Sekhon, Sunil Khanna and Swaranjit Singh Cameotra, “Enhanced biosurfactant production through cloning of three genes and role of esterase in biosurfactant release,” Microbial Cell Factories: 10, 49 -58, 4.53, 2011.
    • Purnima Khanna, Dinesh Goyal and Sunil Khanna, “Pyrene degradation by Bacillus pumilus isolated from crude oil contaminated soil,” Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds: 31, 1, 1-15, 2.1, 2011.
    • Sharma V., Schlücker S., Srivastava S.K., “Origin of the blue‐shifted hydrogen bond in the vibrational Raman spectra of pyridine–water complexes: A density functional theory study,” J. Raman Spectroscopy, Wiley Analytical Science, July 2021.
    Biofuels produced from renewable resources are increasingly attracting attention as public concerns about global warming and energy security have been growing worldwide. Among biofuels, butanol and ethanol are currently under the spotlight. Bacteria have been engineered to produce ethanol and butanol from cheap carbon sources like lignocellulose compounds present in agricultural residues. Metabolic pathway of Clostridium sp ATCC 824 produces acetone, butanol and ethanol through ABE fermentation naturally. The five genes responsible for the production of butanol in Clostridium sp ATCC 824 was PCR amplified and cloned into E coli pTZ57R/T. Shuttle vector has been constructed to transfer these genes to the Lactobacillus sp. In Lactobacillus sp. lactate dehydrogenase produces lactic acid from glucose and down regulation of this gene will reduce the production of lactic acid. Moreover, the dairy waste which consists of lactose is being utilised as carbon source for the production of butanol.

    Sponsored Research Projects

    Metagenomic approach for the degradation of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) – Pyrene
    • Principal Investigator: Dr Sunil Khanna
    • Funding: Department of Biotechnology; ₹ 42.07lakh
    • Duration: 2007-2010
    Genetic diversity of organophosphorus Hydrolases and in situ
      • Principal Investigator: Dr Sunil Khanna
      • Funding: Department of Biotechnology; ₹ 34.79lakh
      • Duration: 2009-2012
      Molecular diversity of Expansin like proteins involved in hydrolysis of cellulose
      • Principal Investigator: Dr Mohit Kumar
      • Funding: Department of Science and Technology, ₹ 27.87 lakh
      • Duration: 2012-15
    Research in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology is focused on the following aspects:
    Synthesis and characterisation of multifunctional hybrid nanostructures

    Considerable progress has been made in the synthesis of low dimensional semiconductor nanostructures. In a majority of published reports, nanostructures have been functionalised with only one of the desired functions, say, optical emission, polarisability, mechanical strength, magnetic response, bio sensing, etc.

    Ultra-small heterostructures formed by using two or more materials can however be designed for multi-functionality. Such heterostructures offer greater flexibility in the choice of materials parameters and targeted applications in nanodevices. For example, the electronic levels in the constituents can be tailored by their sizes and choice of the components while simultaneously providing for effective surface passivation.

    One can thus generate families of hybrid nanostructures using organic, inorganic and biological materials. The resulting properties are expected to be combinations of the properties of the constituents, which indeed is enticing for further study. Controlled growth of these complicated structures, however, remains a critical challenge.

    Research efforts on the fabrication, characterisation and application of some novel hybrid core-shell nanostructures are being directed for possible applications in drug delivery, medical diagnostics, sensing and photovoltaic applications.

    Semiconductor quantum dots for light harvesting

    Optical nanoantennas are optical counterparts of the well-known microwave antenna. Nanoantennas have aroused global scientific and technological interest as important devices for converting electromagnetic radiation into confined/enhanced fields at nano scale. The recent advances in resonant sub-wavelength optical antennas have now offered researchers a continuum of electromagnetic spectrum—from radio frequencies all the way up to X-rays—to design, analyse and predict new phenomena that were previously unknown.

    Their applications in sensing, imaging, energy harvesting, and drug delivery, diagnostic and prevention have brought revolutionary improvements. Scientific challenges being addressed include fundamental understanding of the underlying physics, development of the self-assembled nano antenna arrays at relatively low cost and high throughput beyond the diffraction limit.

    Cytotoxicity of nanoparticles

    Small size, large surface area and charge on the surface are associated with toxicity of nanoparticles. Titanium dioxide is among one of the nanoparticles which is receiving increasing attention for a large variety of applications like plastics, paper, toothpastes, dental fillings, photovoltaic cells, beauty products, sunscreens and textiles. The increasing production and use of titanium dioxide nanoparticles (NP-TiO2) has led to concerns about their possible impact on the environment.

    Bacteria play crucial roles in ecosystem processes and may be subject to the toxicity of these nanoparticles. Laboratory scale study already showed the toxic effect of TiO2 nanoparticles towards some of the bacteria but fate of these nanoparticles and eco-toxicological effects under natural conditions is still not known. Research is targeted to find out the toxic effects of TiO2 nanoparticles towards microorganisms under natural conditions.

    Selected publications

    • Christophe Pagnout, Stephane Jomini, Mandeep Dadhwal Celine caillet, Fabien Thomas, and Pascale Bauda, “Dominant role of electrostatic interactions in the toxicity of titanium dioxide nanoparticles toward bacteria,” Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces: 92, 315-321, 2012.
    • Deepshikha Rathore, Rajnish Kurchania, and R. K. Pandey, “Structural, magnetic and dielectric properties of Ni1−xZnxFe2O4 (x = 005 and 1) nanoparticles synthesised by chemical co-precipitation method,” J NanoSc and Nanotech: 12, 1-8, 2012.
    • Joseph, Joshy; Mishra, N; Mehto, V; Banerji, A and R. K. Pandey, “Structural, optical and magnetic characterisation of bifunctional core shell nanostructure of Fe3O4/CdS synthesised using a room temperature aqueous route,” J Experimental Nanoscience: 1-11, 2012.
    • Ritu Shrivastava, R. K. Pandey, M. Kumar, “Ranking of academic web-sites on the basis of external quality measurement,” Journal of Emerging Trends in Computing and Information Sciences: 3, 4, 547, 2012.
    • Joshy Joseph, K Nishad, M Sharma, D K Gupta, R Singh and R. K. Pandey, “Fe3O4 and CdS based bifunctional core-shell nanostructure, materials research bulletin: 47, 1471, 2012.
    A considerable amount of efforts over the past decades have been dedicated to investigating the applicability of multispectral data, and to improve the spatial resolutions of optical sensors. However, we need to have accurate and quantitative information of surface parameters to understand the process involved in the terrestrial ecosystems. The advents of high-end computers, large storage capacity and enormous data transmission capability have given rise to Hyperspectral Remote Sensing.

    As compared to conventional remote sensing, hyperspectral sensors acquire data in narrow wavelength bands of width of the order, 10nm. The ‘hyper’ in Hyperspectral refers to the large number of measured wavelength bands. Hyperspectral images are spectrally over-determined (i.e., there is correlation between adjacent bands), and they provide ample spectral information to identify and distinguish spectrally unique materials (Shippert, 2008). Thus, data produced by the imaging spectrometers is different from that of the multispectral instruments with regard to the number of wave bands in which data is recorded. The success of Hyperspectral Remote Sensing mainly depends on the understanding of spectroscopy of various targets of interest in the reflective (0.4-2.5) and emissive domain (3-14), therefore, to identify ad classify different snow/ice classes it is highly required to model them in both domains (i.e. reflective and emissive).

    Hyperspectral Remote Sensing can be used for the identification and mapping of different snow cover characteristics, such as Reflectance/ Albedo, snow grain size, moisture content in snow, snow mixed objects study and snow surface temperature, thermal properties of snow etc. For this, there is a need to carry out the following tasks: Generation on spectral library in reflective and emissive domain, identification of suitable bands for snow characteristics, input for development of snow cover monitoring algorithm, Development of snow indices, etc. The proposed research proposal addressing the development of methodologies for classification/ identification of snow/ ice/ glacier features based on modelled snow properties in reflective and emissive regions. The major objective of this research:

    • Modelling the snow and ice properties for snow and glacier classification and identification
    • Upscaling of ground data to aerial and space-borne hyperspectral data

    Sponsored project

    Modelling the snow properties for their classification and identification
    • Principal Investigator: Dr Mohd Anul Haq
    • Funding: Department of Science and Technology; ₹ 37.36 lakh
    • Duration: 2016-2019
    This project has been accepted in “Big Data Analytics – HSRS Data scheme (BDA-HSRS)”, a cluster based multi-institutional networked project consisting of 37 R&D projects from premiere institutions, 4 Region-wise Central Laboratory Facility, HSRS Group Trainings, Data Acquisition (through Hyperspectral Airborne Sensor with collaboration of NASA, JPL and ISRO), Data Portal and Project Coordination Cell.

    The main objective of this project is to develop classification algorithm for snow and glacier Identification based on as Reflectance / Albedo, snow grain size, moisture content in snow, snow mixed objects study and snow surface temperature. The success of Hyperspectral Remote Sensing mainly depends on the understanding of spectroscopy of various targets of interest in the reflective (0.4-2.5) and emissive domain (3-14), therefore the second objective is to identify and classify different snow/ice classes to model them in both domains (i.e., reflective and emissive).

    Selected publications

    • Anul Haq, M., Jain, K. and Menon, K. P. R, (2014) “Modelling of Gangotri glacier thickness and volume using an artificial neural network,” International Journal of Remote Sensing, vol. 35, no. 16, pp. 6035-6042, 2014.
    • Anul Haq, M., Jain, K. and Menon, K. P. R, “Delineation of debris covered glaciers using Remote Sensing,” International Journal of Geomatics and Geosciences, vol. 3, no. 4, 2013.
    • Anul Haq, M., Jain, K. and Menon, K. P. R., “Hypsometrical change of Gangotri glacier since 1968 using multitemporal DEMs,” International Journal of Computer Applications, vol. 63, no.4, pp. 38-42, doi: 10.5120/10456-5164.
    • Anul Haq, M., Jain, K. and Menon, K. P. R, “Change monitoring of Gangotri glacier using remote sensing,” International Journal of Soft Computing and Engineering, vol. 1, no. 6.
    • Anul Haq, M., Jain, K. and Menon, K. P. R, “Development of new thermal ratio index for snow/ice identification,” International Journal of Soft Computing and Engineering, vol.1, no. 6.
    • Principal Investigator: Prof Vijay Mandke
    • Co-funded by: Erasmus + Programme of the European Union
    • Duration: 2016-19
    • Project Summary: Erasmus+ aimed at contributing to:
      1. The Europe 2020 strategy for growth, jobs, social equity and inclusion
      2. ET2020, the EU’s strategic framework for education and training
      3. To promote the sustainable development of its partners in the field of higher education and contribute to achieving the objectives of the EU Youth Strategy.
    Within this framework Erasmus+ had then considered a multidisciplinary Nanoelectronics project; namely, an internationalised master’s degree education in Nanoelectronics in Asian Universities, which aimed at the transfer of knowledge between EU’s higher education institutions and institutions in China, India, Korea and Israel, and between the partner countries’ (PCs) institutions to modernise PG curricula in Nanoelectronics in contributing countries.

    These eleven institutions across seven nations were:
    • Technical University of Sofia (Bulgaria)
    • Politecnico di Torino (Italy)
    • University College of Southeast Norway (Norway)
    • University of Malaya (Malaysia)
    • University Tunku Abdul Rehman (Malaysia)
    • University of Chinese Academy of Science (People’s Republic of China)
    • Chongqing University of Technology (People’s Republic of China)
    • Tel Aviv University (Israel)
    • Bar Ilan University (Israel)
    • University of Mumbai (India)
    • NIIT University, Neemrana (Rajasthan, India) .
    Specifically, NU’s NanoEl project part was to undertake a work performance survey of Indian Nanoelectronics industry (SMEs included), and in the areas of nanofabrication and applications of nanoelectronics, develop the identified “Nanoelectronic Industry Specific Competence based Work-Skill (NeISCWS) Qualification Course” (NeISCWS Qualification Course) at PG level, and design, develop and implement instruction and assessment processes for the same to be delivered using ICT-enabled educational technology (ET) as the information delivery system.

    It may be mentioned that this course would further comprise two eligibility courses:
    • Introduction to Nanoelectronics: Processes, Computation and Design (supported by Basics of Science and Technology)
    • Nanoelectronics applications – Systems, Quality living with Smart Future, and Present to Future Business Systems Engineering Entrepreneurship.
    These courses would also be available to BTech Electronics and Communication programme students in their 3rd and 4th years, respectively.

    Further, for ensuring a maximum flexibility in course offering, these two courses were to be developed as open learning (OL) courses. Commensurate with the Teaching-Learning requirements of the totality of these educational objectives, the classroom and laboratory instruction methodologies for above NanoEl courses would heavily leverage flipped classroom technologies and convergence technology (CT) enabled ET systems, and pedagogic initiatives driving project-based learning.

    Thus, NU would ensure the following four institutional objectives under the NU Nano project:
    • Development of Nanoelectronics specialisation at NU’s Electronics and Communication programme offering
    • Empowerment of BTech Electronics and Communication programme students at NU by way of improved employment opportunities and research engagements in the field of Nanoelectronics
    • Faculty development
    • Positioning Nanoelectirics courses – and thereby the BTech students studying them as 1st choice for Nanoelectronics-based industry problem solving for Nanoelectronics companies (SMEs included)
    Given this, the NU Nano project would understandably then be so engaging NU students during the project implementation phase, too.

    The project commenced in October 2016 with a kick-off meeting in January 2017.
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