Big Little Matter

45

Imagine your house equipped with a smart window — one that will allow only light and not heat to enter in the blazing summer months.

Imagine your house equipped with a smart window — one that will allow only light and not heat to enter in the blazing summer months. Or the ability to "tune" quantum dots, which might just change the core of computing in the future. Two Indian scientists are working in these exciting fields and have been recognised (September/October, 2012) in their annual "35 Innovators Under 35" honour roll. The innovators, four in all from Inby Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)'s Technology Review dia, work in various field, but have one thing in common, say the editors of the magazine, "their work is likely to be influential for a very long time."

Sarbajit Banerjee, 33

When water boils into steam or freezes into ice, it undergoes a phase transition, meaning the change of a substance from one phase to another. Food scientists, for example, are using the mechanism of phase transitions to study the nature of ice formation, and the behaviour of milk fat at low temperatures to improve the making of ice cream. Substances can show altered physical properties at different temperatures, such as a variation in structure while interacting with external agents such as light or electricity.

Sarbajit Banerjee, an associate professor of chemistry at the University at Buffalo, US, while researching phase transitions hit upon a novel innovation, which has potential applications in making smart windows — one that can be tuned to "switch off" the sun's heat in summer and "switch it on" in winter by the flick of a button.

Banerjee, who hails from Kolkata, and studied chemistry at St Stephen's College, Delhi, earned his doctorate at the State University of New York at Stony Brook researching materials chemistry and nanoscience, later shifting focus to solid-state chemistry and the science of thin films.

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