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Frontier Materials Research: Way Forward

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Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University

With the inauguration of the Olympic games today in Tokyo amidst new normalcy, material scientists are enjoying their own virtual Olympiad for three days. Coimbatore, India-based Kumaraguru College of Technology is organizing a major virtual conference, “International Conference on Materials Research in Science and Engineering,” from July 23-25, 2021. The conference has attracted participants from six countries such as India, United States, Finland, UK, Malaysia, and Singapore. About 275 papers are being presented over three days, which is a celebration of science and engineering.

“The conference focuses on computational and experimental research on different subfields in a materials science discipline such as textiles, composites, coatings, which find applications in varied sectors such as defense, aerospace, etc.,” stated Professor K. Sundararaj, Convenor of the congress.

Cotton quality characteristics like fiber elongation play an important role in the spinning performance and the quality of yarns, stated, world’s leading cotton fiber quality expert, Professor Eric Hequet of Texas Tech University, USA, in a keynote lecture today.

In the COVID-19 era, the importance of materials in countering the infection using face masks is highly felt important by people. Today, in the inaugural function of the conference, this scribe highlighted the importance of materials science in making countries self-reliant, citing the example of how personnel protective equipment saved lives. He highlighted that this decade would see a revival in manufacturing and materials development as was the case in the latter part of the 18th century with the beginning of the industrial revolution. It is interesting to note that about every twenty-five years, a new revolution happens, for example, the medical revolution with the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA in 1953, followed by PCR in 1985. The eighties and early nineties saw the beginning of the IT revolution that metamorphosed into the communication and the digital revolution. This decade will see the growth in sustainable products from new and novel fibers and developments in advanced manufacturing. The conference is timely and addresses important themes such as nanotechnology, soft and hard composites, protective textiles, cotton, hybrid materials, etc.

“Research is important not only to solve existing problems but also to foresee what is needed and what is on the horizon,” stated, Professor Sib Krishna Ghoshal of Universiti Teknologi, Malaysia. Research on hybrid materials involving organic and inorganic materials to understand the interaction of these materials and develop advanced products that find applications enabling sustainability and improving health care was emphasized by Professor Ghoshal. Developments in nanofibers in the past two decades were presented by Professor Seeram Ramakrishna of the National University of Singapore.

Materials science will be a key research area and new materials that help with building energy harvesters, health care products and infrastructure will boost the economies of the nation. Agreeing to the importance of advanced and agile manufacturing, Professor D. Saravanan, Principal of Kumaraguru College of Technology stated, ”Quest for new materials has been there since stone ages.”

Who would thought that an unassuming material, “face mask,” would come to prominence and save so many lives? Countries now realize the importance of manufacturing and developing new and sustainable materials.

Address delivered by this scribe is available at this YT link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yl9-I-UtgpM