Research Labs


Research Labs


The objective of our research group is to understand the fundamentals of conversion of renewable and non-renewable feedstocks to biofuels, chemicals and materials via different techniques including catalytic fast pyrolysis, catalytic fast hydropyrolysis, microwave assisted pyrolysis, torrefaction, and microwave assisted solvolysis. To this end, we utilize various feedstocks like lignocellulosic biomass, lignin, microalgae, waste plastics, waste oils, e-wastes, municipal solid wastes (MSW) and coals. High quality experiments and modeling (both reaction kinetic and quantum chemical models) are employed to further the understanding.

Faculty Member



Dr. R. Vinu

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The macromolecular modeling and simulation lab located in HSB-152 in the ground floor was set up by Professor Upendra Natarajan in 2007. The lab is managed and used by the students and scholars of Natarajan research group. The aim of the lab is to do cutting edge research in fundamental aspects of engineering sciences, materials and physical chemistry of polymeric systems, hybrid materials, colloidal solutions, and soft materials. The role of quantum chemistry and structural chemistry becomes very important in our efforts. The overarching goals of the lab and of the group’s research is to strive to do research for providing new understanding at the molecular and meso-scale towards predictive design of materials at the bulk scale. We attempt to do this by using simulation and theoretical methods from the atomic to the micro- scale. The methods used cover classical and quantum approaches based on statistical mechanics and density functional theory, with main focus on atomistic modeling. The group is also focusing on complimentary collaborations that would lead to long-term advancement in knowledge. We also run an advanced course on computational application of statistical mechanics lab which supplements the theoretical courses on molecular theory and molecular thermodynamics of matter taught by Prof. Natarajan.

Faculty Member



Dr. Upendra Natarajan

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Multi-phase material systems with polymers and colloids are ubiquitous in diverse applications ranging from electronics, photonics to bio-medical and personal care products. Transport phenomena and thermodynamic studies of these materials are very useful in designing them. At the same time, the physico-chemical interactions at microscopic and molecular levels are also crucial to understand of the assembly, structure and dynamics of these materials.

Not only in bulk, the study of colloids and polymers also includes investigating them at surfaces/ interfaces, and in thin films and membranes. Combintion of them, eg polymer reinforced with filler and polymer stabilized colloids, are also common. Characterization and understanding of the mechanical, thermal and electrical response is very crucial for their applications.
Polymer Engineering and Colloid Sciences group focuses on examining polymers and colloids in a whole gamut of research projects. Experimental tools and modeling/simulation strategies are utilized in the group to study various aspects, such as: Anisotropic colloids,Complex fluid interfaces, Conducting polymers and printing of devices, Formation of nanoparticles, Ionic polymer membranes, Mechanics of viscoelastic solids, Patchy colloids,Rheology of complex fluids

Faculty Members



Dr. Abhijit P. Deshpande

Dr. Basavaraj M Gurappa

Dr. Ethayaraja Mani

Dr. Susy Varughese

Dr. Sumesh Thampi

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1. Thin-film Photoelectrochemical Solar cells

Photoelectrochemical solar cells are a class of electrochemical devices that converts incident photons to electricity. We are interested in exploring two different aspects of this system, one, to develop new oxide/sulfide/coordination-framework absorber materials and, next to understand the fundamental electron transfer dynamics at the interface of semiconductor-electrolyte  and finding ways to improve the photovoltaic conversion efficiency. Typical solar cells in this category including, dye-sensitized, quantum-dot sensitized, and other thin-absorber solar cells.

2. Thin-film Solid-state Solar cells

Monolithic thin films solar cells based on organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites (CH3NH3PbI3) attracted immense interest because they exhibit incredibly high efficiency, beyond 20%. Our group’s interest is to understand the recombination dynamics of photogenerated charge carriers in these devices and to improve the device efficiency by modifying the semiconductor-perovskite interface. Looking beyond, we are also keen to develop new hybrid perovskite materials free of heavy elements including Pb, and to improve the device stability for long term performance.

Solar water splitting and CO2 reduction are two important ways to store solar energy, in the form of chemical fuels. Fundamental issues of these photoelectrochemical systems include, low solar-to-fuel conversion efficiency, poor device stability and, insufficient catalytic activity for  oxidation and/or reduction reactions. We are interested in addressing these issues by developing new visible/near-IR absorbers, selective catalysts and by tuning the interface between photoelectrodes/catalyst and electrolyte.

Faculty Member



Dr. Aravind Kumar Chandiran

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Systems & Control Group of Chemical Engineering at IIT Madras focuses mainly on development of tools related to process systems engineering.The area of process systems engineering can be broadly classified under process design and process operations related tasks. There are several sub-areas under process design such as formalisms for conceptual design, heat-exchange and water network design etc. Under process operations, the main sub-areas are process control, process monitoring and diagnosis, system identification, operations planning that could include scheduling, supply chain management and other such areas.

Faculty Members



Dr. Raghunathan Rengaswamy

Dr. Shankar Narasimhan

Dr. Arun K. Tangirala

Dr. Sridharakumar Narasimhan
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