Living the 'Nano'-life 'macro' style: Jay Chakraborty

Living the 'Nano'-life 'macro' style: Jay Chakraborty

Shrestha Mohapatra | Nov 04, 2019

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STEELUN- NIT Rourkela’s metal advantage chapter- organised an event for Materials Science enthusiasts on the 2nd day of INNOVISION. NIT Rourkela had the esteemed opportunity for Jay Chakraborty to grace INNOVISION to give a talk on Nano-particles- ‘Macro talk on Nano-particles’.

Some people are destined to follow their passions. Some carve their paths towards it.

Jay Chakraborty is one of the flag-bearers of Material Scientists, having published many research papers in eminent publications. He works as a Principal Scientist in the prestigious testing facility; National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur. What followed that morning was nothing short of an illustrious talk

The talk started off with an enthusiastic introduction on Nano-particles.

He explained how microstructure can be changed to change the design of the material. The talk mostly dealt with the thermodynamics and kinetics of grain size particles. He took an example of Titanium thin films to proceed with the discussion about the diffusion which occurs at high stress.

He went on to explain the role of grain boundary energy in the diffusion of material along the grain boundary in a polycrystalline solid. The microstructure, stress and texture in Titanium Nitride thin films were taken as an example to explain entrapment and diffusion in a more narrow sense.

The lecture ended with an interactive session with the students and on a good note.

Team MM had the opportunity to grab a seat with the renowned Jay Chakraborty for a short interview.

With many citations and research papers, you’ve managed to make people turn their attention to the Materials world. What has motivated you in this journey of Material Science?

I try to understand a few phenomena in Material Science like diffusion and phase and structural transformation occur in metals and alloys, their properties and how they’re applied in the Industry. That motivated me to learn more about Materials. Initially, I came from a Physics background where you read a lot of theories but as soon as you enter the field of Materials Science, you get to do things and experiment with them to get better results every day. I’ve always tried to search for a problem which is unsolvable. My other motivation was to work with renowned scientists whose work inspires me and gives me the understanding to do better.

Walk us through all your research work.

My career started with plasma processing of materials and their surface modifications to make different types of compounds which are harder and corrosion-resistant. I used to characterise them also based on their skill sets different types of spectroscopy for chemical analysis.  Later on, I did my Ph. D in Material Science which was based on diffusion in nano-scale like diffusion in thin films. I dealt with thermodynamics of diffusion at nano-scale especially when there’s a large amount of stress. The later part of my PhD dealt with in-situ measurements of stress induced by diffusion. After that, I joined G-research centre in Bangalore and my work was solely dedicated to plasma technology like plasma-assisted ball milling and plasma for controlling pollution. I’ve also worked on wireless power transport which will come to the market in the near future. Then, I shifted back to academic research again.

 What made the comeback of research from Industrial work necessary?

To be honest, Industrial research is very thrilling because there are new problems every day which are very important for the real world out there. However, the comeback was important because in the industry I had to change my research topics very often depending on their needs. I realised that one has to gain expertise in a particular domain by working consistently on it for many years. I’m still doing industrial research at CSIR and TATA steel and various other companies. These industrial companies solve many problems but many fundamental concepts remain hidden in plain-sight which needs digging. So, being an academician and working in industries, you can have the best of both worlds. Although the industry is very business-driven, there’s a challenge every day to solve new problems. Each side has its own perks, I guess.

Are there any recent discoveries which have caught your eye recently or motivated you?

There are new discoveries every day and there are more things to find every day. There are prizes for every innovation but it comes at a much later stage. The important part is that you like something and you keep on solving that and rooting for its answer. The answer which you’re seeking is the driving force. Had I been able to develop new material and give it to the world, I would be ecstatic. If I do that, I’ll consider it an achievement. It’s difficult and frustrating sometimes because you might get an idea every now and then. But most of the times, the discovery or the idea has already been manifested by someone else. It’s still a learning force.

What are the real-world implications of your research?

As a researcher, we always jump from one problem to another. We never think about the practicality of a problem.  The only time we think of applications in the real world is when we come across an observation which leads to the development of the material into something new and beneficial for the society. Some things take time and are a step by step process. Such incremental research works require patience and even if it’s time-consuming, it doesn’t mean it’ll amount to nothing.

Where do you see the field of Materials Science heading in a few years?

Materials Science is a very burgeoning field. Everything in our daily life comprises materials. It surrounds us. It has a long successful path ahead of it. There are so many unsolved questions which demand answers. For example- Refrigerators use CFCs which are harmful to the environment. However, an alternative can be made which utilises new magneto-caloric material. The new inventions have to be cheap and affordable for it to become a part of the market. Since fossil fuels are almost exhausted, people are searching for greener alternatives like Hydrogen-based-fuels. Material Science always has game-changing technology which utilises waste to convert it to energy, cutting back on toxicity. The sky’s the limit for this branch of studies.  

What are your views about students choosing non-core jobs?

People can choose whatever field they like according to their interest. It’s like an ecosystem. In a mobile phone, the material is present along with the software and hardware components. Everybody is in it together to make a product better over the years. All the fields of Science make societal conditions more easy and viable. For example- Siegfried Bethke, the Director in Max Planck Institute for Physics in Germany is conducting research for optimisation of time at traffic signals. Every field is inter-related and that is where the satisfaction of an academician lies, in the development of a product from all spheres.  

What is your success mantra?

I’ve always tried to do my research whole-heartedly. The quality matters along with the type of questions you want to answer. I’ve always aimed at quality and worked for the invention of new materials which will be beneficial for society. Never stop thinking. You’re mind should always be working and questioning.

The students are very nice and friendly. The campus is beautiful and lush with greenery. I’m happy to be a small part of INNOVISION.

Team MM thanks STEELUN and INNNOVISION for providing more opportunities for students to learn and interact with people of such magnanimous stature. We hope for more such informative and enigmatic guest lectures for days to come.

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