The innovative potential of nanomaterial technology is substantial. Their nanometric dimension provides these materials with unique mechanical, optical and electrical properties. Alternative Energy and nanotechnology Research Laboratory (AENL) at the Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Technology is focusing on these studies of these properties and applying these basic properties to energy, environmental and biological applications.
AENL seeks to understand the fundamental knowledge of nanomaterials towards accomplishing the goal of directly applying this knowledge to facilitate the advancement of nanotechnology. The research concepts taken up the research scholars in AENL provide them the knowledge and training to meet the scientific challenges of the future India. As a fundamental science research laboratory, AENL thrives in association with various research organizations and industries for advancement of technology and materials.
To begin with, AENL has succeeded in synthesizing large quantities of one-dimensional multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) by catalytic decomposition of acetylene over novel alloy-hydride catalysts. Later, the focus has been shifted towards two-dimensional graphene and graphene was successfully synthesized by hydrogen exfoliation and solar exfoliation methods in large quantities. CNTs and graphene, which have been regularly prepared, have been used for different energy, environment, biosensors and biomedical applications. The areas on which we work are fuel cells technology, hydrogen as an alternative energy carrier, Nanomaterials for industrial waste waters treatment, purification of seawater, capture CO2, conversion of CO2 into hydrocarbons, nanofluids for coolant & lubricant applications, flexible supercapacitor stack, Li and Na ion batteries, DSSC, biological sensors and hydrogen sensor.
In order to achieve the maximum utilization of the nanomaterials for different applications, the state-of- art characterization facilities such as SEM, HRTEM, AFM, PPMS, XPS, Raman spectrometer have been established at the Nano Functional Materials Technology Centre (NFMTC) at IITM with the funding of DST and two industries. This is in addition to the development of a highly sophisticated Alternative Energy and nanotechnology Research Laboratory from the funding of IITM, sponsored agencies and companies through consultancy projects.