Old Website(July 2005-July 2012)



               Soft Nanofabrication and Nanofabrication
                                   with Soft Matter:
  with Applications in Energy, Environment and Bioplatforms




    The basic thrust of this proposal is in developing soft materials, structures and devices within 100 nm size based on soft (e.g., polymeric, biological, organic) materials and polymer-derived carbons and exploit their applications in three areas: energy, environment and bio-applications. The projects outlined herein all have in common goals of fabrication of nanostructures in soft materials with a further emphasis on generation and use of carbon based multiscale NEMS/MEMS obtained by pyrolysis of the nanostructures fabricated in suitable polymer precursors. The novelty will be in materials (including functionalization), in the methods of fabrication and in the applications envisaged.

     The following are the broad objectives of the proposal related to soft nanofabrication:

(a) To provide a state-of-the-art facility and resources for carrying out research and development activities in the      areas of soft nanfabrication.

(b) New and creative combinations of ”top-down‘ and ”bottom-up‘, ”wet‘ and ”dry‘ and ”soft‘ and ”hard‘ will be      explored to push the boundaries of sub-100 nm fabrication with an emphasis on multiscale materials and devices      in the context of energy, envioronment and biological applications.

(c) Applications of soft nanofabrication routes to fabrication of devices and structures in other final materials of use      such as ceramics and carbon.

(d) Training of graduate students, research associates, post-doc fellows and faculty of other institutes/universities in      this emerging area, thereby creating an expert base which does not currently exist in our country.

(e) Undertaking of specific projects in close collaborations both within IITK and with the other institutes and R & D      organizations in India and abroad.


       In view of the above objectives, the following operational steps will be evolved:

(1) A complete mastery of the top-down techniques for multi-scale capabilities from FIB, e-beam, laser to     photolithography combined with the development of a variety of self-assembly and self-organization based        techniques for nanofabrication of large-area functional interfaces, nano bulk materials and devices.

(2) Develop ment of materials and ways to convert soft nanostructures to carbons, ceramics, metals etc for a variety       of applications.

(3) The use of fabricated nanostructures from the soft route in energy, environmental and
      bio applications.

    A major area in the use of soft nanostructures is their transformation to a variety of carbon based multiscale structures, MEMS/NEMS and other devices. In view of its wide window of electrochemical stability, variety of possibilities for functionalization, control of porosity and wettability, known biocompatibility in many instances, and conductive nature, glassy carbon is among the most under-appreciated material for fabrication of multiscale nano/micro fabrication in the form of NEMS/MEMS integrated with nanofibres and nanoparticles. A basic difficulty has been that the well-established materials and techniques of top- down nanofabrication such as photoresists, silicon wafers and lithographies are not directly applicable for fabrication in carbon. Thus, one of the unifying themes of the center is the fabrication of carbon based nanostructures by first fabricating in a variety of polymer ic carbon precursors by a combination of top-down and bottom-up techniques including soft lithographies and self-organization and then converting the polymeric structures to glassy carbon by pyrolysis.


    The characterization and use of these nanotextured carbon structures such as multiscale NEMS, nanofibres, nanocapsule, etc is being explored in energy (microbatteries and fuel cell electrodes, solid-state lighting and super-capacitors), environment (multiscale platforms for industrial and air/water remediation, sensors) and bioplatforms (cell scaffolds, bio-nanofluidics, biosensors, bioimaging and drug delivery).


   There is already a diversity of active expertise in the above themes at IITK, which was seeded by the infrastructure created by the DST Unit on Nanosciences starting in June 2006. This has provided tremendous boost to the nanoscience activities at IITK and its resources have been heavily used. It is now proposed to further intensify this momentum in a selected area of nanofabrication with soft materials and their novel applications. All the projects proposed here are interdisciplinary in which at least two or more group members will work together, the unifying theme being the methods of soft nanofabrication and nanofabrication with soft materials. Further, pyrolysis and functionalization of nanostructures derived in suitable soft precursor materials will be undertaken to fabricate a variety of carbon nanostructur es and devices (C-MEMS/NEMS) that will be employed in energy, environmental and bio-applications.


     During the last five years, the DST Unit at IITK has developed innovative science and applications in ultrathin (< 100 nm) polymer coatings, multiscale integrated micro-nano webs for environmental remediation, carbon MEMS for biological and energy applications, biomimetic adhesives, white light emitting nanoparticles, multifunctional polymer capsules, etc. Additionally, the centre has also equipped with the basic equipment such as SEM, AFM, e-beam, ellipsometry, nano-imprint lithography, FIB,Raman spectroscopy, etc. The group making use of the nanoscience r esources has now matured from nano synthesis/fabrication to creation of specific functionalities for targeted applications.The current activities thus integrate the activities of around ten investigators who are all working on polymeric and polymer derived carbon nanostructures in the areas of energy, environment and bioplatforms. This allows consolidation of our activities and will allow an optimal use of existing and new nanoscience resources. All the participating investigators have interests in the common themes and complimentary expertise as detailed below.


     The unifying theme of the proposal is soft nanofabrication and nanofabrication with soft materials. Functionally, the proposal can be divided into three major areas that include exploring the fundamentals and development of polymer based and polymer derived carbon based nanomaterials, nanofabrication, nanodevices and nanomechanics with applications in: (1) energy, (2) biology/health and (3) environment.