Prof. V. Ramgopal Rao

        The talk given by Mr. Ramgopal Rao, esteemed professor of Electrical Dept, IIT Bombay was based on “Multidisciplinary Approach To Product Development: Opportunities and Challenges”. The focus was on the evolution and use of Nanotechnology in Product innovation and development. Professor started off by defining Nanotechnology (engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale) and its applications in various sectors like Agriculture, Healthcare and Energy. He also talked about “Frugal Innovation”, which is the essence of providing solutions that are accessible and affordable by the masses.

        The heart of this technology lies in the fact that at nano-scale sizes, elements exhibit markedly different material properties like Thermal, Optical, Mechanical, Electrical and Magnetic Properties. This is because at nano-scale sizes surface area to volume ratio is very high, with almost all the atoms being exposed to the environment, which allows them to react very strongly to the external stimulus. For example Silicon dioxide which is a perfect conductor at normal conditions turns into an insulator at nano-scale sizes. Similarly Carbon nanotubes are stronger than steel. The threshold below which the elements exhibit a change in the property is said to be at 100 nanometers. 

        As per the professor, the industries that are going to benefit in the near term are the ones who are involved in building tools for nanotechnology, synthesizing Composites and Catalysts for product development etc., while aerospace, medicine and display technology industries will be benefitted in the medium term.