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Posted: March 16, 2009
IIT Madras files two nanotechnology patent applications
(Nanowerk News) Continuing to remain at the forefront of using cutting-edge technology to meet societal needs, IIT-Madras is filing a patent on two new applications of nanotechnology for removal of dyes from waste water released from textile mills and for more efficient drug delivery in cancer treatment.
The small size of nanomaterials ensures the presence of many atoms or molecules near interfaces thereby leading to a very high surface area, said Dr S Ramaprabhu, professor, Alternative Energy and Nanotechnology Laboratory (AENL), department of physics. Pointing out that 1 gm of the material could extend over an area as vast as a football field, the professor said this made the nanocomposite adsorbent (substance sticks to the surface rather than being absorbed into the medium) ideal for removal of dye molecules when attached to proper functional groups.
"We used the adsorbent on a sample let out from a factory. It was a mixture of several dyes and other substances. In addition to removing the dyes, it also removed the bad odour of the liquid thereby rendering the water suitable for industrial or even agricultural use," said T Arokiadoss, post-doctorant, AENL, who assisted in the project.
With graphite being used to make up nearly 90% of the adsorbent material, the finished product would prove economical for industries if procured in bulk, professor Ramaprabhu said. Only the carbon nanotubes which made up the remaining components of the material were expensive, he added.
The professor also said it was possible to restore the dye absorbed on the surface of the nanomaterial by passing it through a particular fluid. Researchers were considering tweaking the chemical composition of the material so that it could be used on water released from tanneries and even in polluted lakes.
Exploring the applications of nanotechnology in cancer treatment, professor Ramaprabhu and his team found it was possible to eliminate the use of a spacer so that drug molecules were directly bonded to a carbon nanotube (CNT). The versatile one-dimensional structure of CNTs allowed them to be used as a vessel for transporting drugs directly to the source of the disease, thereby reducing the toxicity of chemotherapy agents to healthy cells.