A New German Tale: Prof. Saurav Chatterjee
Aug 03, 2015 | Nargis Jahan
Saurav Chatterjee from the Department of Chemistry, NIT Rourkela recently went to Germany to work on a collaborative research project between the two countries. Team MM caught up with the cool and unassuming Professor to discuss the current status and future plans regarding the same.
MM: What is the project all about? And what does it aim at achieving?
SC: This is a joint project being worked upon by scientific minds from our institute and from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. We are working on the design of binary materials containing metal antimonides and bismuthides. This work has great potential to improvise semi-conductor and solar cell devices.
The main idea behind the collaboration is to enhance our understanding of chemistry by interacting with the scientific community from a reputed institution. It works both ways. Not only do we get to learn, it also allows the German researchers to look at a topic from a whole new angle, thus improving the chances for a feasible and innovative solution. The Germans are expert in metal bismuthides while we have sound knowledge of transition metal clusters and we are trying to merge our efforts to lead to something really useful.
MM: How did this project come up for the chemistry department at NITR?
SC: Actually this sort of inter-nation research is made possible by government bodies from the two countries. Here in India we have the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and there is the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), the German Academic Exchange Service. Working closely together they try and ensure requisite facilities and grant permissions so that a pioneering body of research work is produced.
The seed of the idea germinated way back, when I was in Germany. I am a DAAD alumni myself. I had received a DAAD fellowship three years ago for doing scientific research. While there, my colleagues and I had discussed a future project that would involve not only professors but also students from both the countries. I am happy that it has materialized now and we look forward to doing some benefiting research.
MM: What is the duration of this programme? Apart from you who will be involved in this project?
SC: The project began in the summer this year with me visiting the team of Professor Stephan Schulz at Duisburg-Essen. Over a period of two years, we expect to not only generate new ideas but also establish a long-lasting fraternity with the community there. Prof. Stephan’s student is slated to visit NIT Rourkela this November during Diwali after which one of my students will visit Germany. Next year we expect a faculty along with another student to come here and a couple of students from my team to follow up the work there. Sasmita Mishra and Avishek Ghosh are in my team for this project.
MM: So this initiative provides the research scholars an opportunity to go beyond the borders and work in a new environment. This is a commendable endeavor that you are striving to provide such a stimulating experience for your students.
SC: What happens is that we professors often get to visit Universities in other countries, attend conferences and interact with the global science community. But only a handful of research scholars here get an opportunity to go out and explore. We aim to bridge the gap by including more of our students in this project. Eventually we plan to select other promising young people from different parts of both countries and continue to expand the work
MM: Was any new equipment bought for this research?
SC: We already have the infrastructure. Our laboratories are quite well equipped to support advanced research. Duisburg-Essen is more developed but they lack a state-of-the-art Tunnel Electron Microscope (TEM) which we have. But then they also have other facilities there. So together this project is getting all the tools and techniques required. What is really important is fresh new ideas.
Getting a project with a developed country is generally difficult because unless your proposal is highly impressive the government will not take it up. In this regard I am proud to say that our department is doing good work and we are continuously working to better it.
Team MM applauds Professor Chatterjee for his dedication and the efforts he puts in for his students and wishes him all the very best for this ongoing project and other future endeavours.