1. Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOF)
Global energy consumption is one of the central issues for human beings in the 21st century. Rapid increase in the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide will damage the global ecosystem. A great amount of attention has been needed to find solutions for conservation and remediation of the environment due to the impacts of CO2 release. Scientists seek advanced materials for capturing CO2 which is directly related to clean energy and environmental protection. Hydrogen storage is a critical issue that needs to be overcome for hazards of hydrogen in transportation. These challenges were accepted by the scientists and expanded the research area into the development of most promising materials for storing these valuable energy sources. These investigations have led to new porous materials,‘ Metal-Organic Frameworks’ which have exceptionally high surface areas and hydrogen uptake capacities.
A ferrofluid is a stable colloidal suspension of sub-domain magnetic particles in a liquid carrier. The particles, which have an average size of about 100Å (10 nm), are coated with a stabilizing dispersing agent (surfactant) which prevents particle agglomeration even when a strong magnetic field gradient is applied to the ferrofluid. When a magnetic field is applied to a ferrofluid, the magnetic moments of the particles orient along the field lines almost instantly. The magnetization of the ferrofluid responds immediately to the changes in the applied magnetic field and when the applied field is removed, the moments randomize quickly. In a gradient field the whole fluid responds as a homogeneous magnetic liquid which moves to the region of highest flux. This means that ferrofluids can be precisely positioned and controlled by an external magnetic field. Application: Electronic devices, medical applications, space craft propulsion etc.
Photocatalyst is one that participates and modifies the reaction rate of chemical reactions under light irradiation without changing and consuming itself in the end. Semiconductor nanoparticles were capable of trapping and oxidizing organic compounds to minerals and small molecules such as CO2. As shown in Figure semiconductor absorbs UV photons from sunlight generating electron and hole pairs (EHPs). When the hole reaches the particle’s surface, it can react with hydroxyl ions from adsorbed surface water and form highly reactive hydroxyl radicals that are electrically neutral but highly reactive. The material used is environment-benign and easy to be separated for recyclable usage and the reaction process is simple and can take place under ambient conditions. Therefore, photocatalytic degradation (PCD) of contaminants using semiconductor as photocatalyst is being studied for disinfection, air purification, environmental cleaning, and wastewater treatment in daily life and industrial activities.
4. High Energy Materials
These are a special class of compounds which have low stability and are sensitive to pressure and temperature liberating high energy on decomposition. Explosives and propellants fall under this category and they find extensive applications in defense and space research. There are inorganic, organic and polymeric compounds and the area of research includes their synthesis, characterization and property evaluation suiting to different applications. At present we are working on solid propellant oxidizers like Phase stabilized ammonium nitrate and Ammonium perchlorate crystal structure studies and high energy polymeric binders synthesis. More areas of research are planned.
5. Flexible Opto-Electronic Materials
Opto-electronic devices developed until now are usually highly costly, rigid and brittle. Pursuit for low-cost-flexible inorganic and organic semiconducting materials with easy processability for the development of flexible opto-electronic devices has recently been surged as a highly sought after research field. Such devices are in constant demand in renewable energy sectors where mechanical flexibility offer distinct advantages in carriage and installation of the devices, and in display devices where flexible displays render a better 3–dimensional view and ease of carrying. Recently non-volatile, low viscosity, functional molecular liquids/crystals are proposed as potential materials to be used in foldable device applications. These materials are made by simple chemical functionalization of a functionally active molecule with long chain carbon based side chains. Synthesis of such materials with tunable opto-electronic properties can aid the development of flexible solar cells, light emitting diodes and transistors.
6. Perovskite Solar Cells
Recently, perovskite-based solar cells have been developed and have rapidly surpassed the efficiencies of many emerging and commercial photovoltaics, such as dye-sensitised, organic and amorphous silicon solar cells. The term perovskite is given to all compounds which have the general chemical formula ABX3. Organic–inorganic metal trihalide perovskites (where A is an organic cation, B a divalent metal ion, and X a halide or any mixture thereof) such as CH3NH3PbX3, are promising alternatives to silicon, having both cheap and abundant starting materials, and being able to be manufactured by simple solution. The efficiencies of perovskite solar cells have now reached a remarkable certified value o 17.9% (Newport). One concern with this material is the toxicity of lead, and as such, a key scientific challenge is to replace the lead in the perovskite crystal with a less toxic metal. Here we aim to undertake the research of environmentally benign lead-free perovskite solar cells.
7. High Temperature oxidation resistant materials
Ultra-high temperature ceramic (UHTC) refractory materials including metal carbides and borides have potential applications in hyper sonic aerospace vehicles, missiles etc., as they can afford temperatures between 1600 0C and 2800 0C in oxidizing environments of high velocity dissociated air. Silicon Carbide-Zirconium Carbide nanoceramic composite produced by the high temperature pyrolysis of preceramic polymers offers a convenient method for coatings on substrates subjected to high temperature oxidative environments.
8. Theoretical and Computational studies
Theoretical and computational studies are valuable tools that compliment experimental syntheses and characterization. Currently computer simulations are being carried out to study the structure-property relationships of ferrofluids, organic semiconductor molecules for opto-electronic applications and high throughput computational screening of materials for solar cell and OLED applications.