Can you tell me about the research that's happening at IIT Madras?

IIT Madras has been formally recognised as an Institute of Eminence (IoE) under the GoI scheme. This prestigious recognition is a testament to the institute’s commitment to excellence in higher education and research. With its new IoE status, IIT Madras has embarked on a journey to establish itself as a world-class teaching and research institution, focusing on a wide range of contemporary fields.

At the heart of IIT Madras’s research efforts lie the numerous Research Initiatives (RI) in diverse fields of contemporary relevance. Complementing these initiatives are the Centers of Excellence (CoE) and the state-of-the-art Research Park, which serve as vibrant hubs of innovation, collaboration, and knowledge exchange. The CoEs provide leadership, research, support, and sector-specific skill training while the park brings together innovators, experienced professionals, and aspiring start-ups, all under one roof.

Many more of these RIs will go on to become Centres of Excellence within the IIT Madras system. A total of 68 research initiatives belonging to 21 identified technology clusters are presently under way. The clusters include:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Advanced Materials
  • AI and Data Sciences
  • Autonomous Systems
  • Big Networks
  • Chemistry
  • Circular Economy
  • Complex Systems
  • Earth Sciences
  • Energy, Propulsion, Renewable Energy
  • Humanities/Business
  • Mathematics and Cyber Security
  • Medical Technology
  • Medicine and Biology
  • Microscopy
  • Microelectronics and Integrated Circuits
  • Ocean Technology
  • Physics
  • Quantum Science and Technology
  • Safety Science and Systems
  • Sensing and Vision

Let’s take a look at some of the recently launched Centers of Excellence, which offer a preview of the groundbreaking research being undertaken at the institute.

  • Critical Transitions in Complex Systems (CTCS)

Many complex systems (such as turbulent thermo-fluid systems, climate systems, financial markets, infectious diseases, etc.) exhibit critical transitions where the system shifts abruptly from one state to another. Such critical transitions can have undesirable or even catastrophic consequences, including failure of space missions, extreme weather, pandemics, and sudden financial markets crash. CTCS’ primary objective is to study such critical transitions and extreme events in flow and energy systems in engineering and nature and subsequently, to develop technologies to anticipate and mitigate the effect of these transitions through smart control actions.

  • NDE 5.0 – Industrial Assets and Process Management

Addressing the challenges of aging industrial assets, the NDE 5.0 - Industrial Assets and Process Management CoE aims to enhance the safety, efficiency, and functionality of pipelines, airplanes, railways, and other industrial assets. This CoE is spread over 6 departments with 10+ startups and 90+ IPs under its wing.

  • Centre of Excellence on Molecular Materials and Functions

The Center of Excellence on Molecular Materials and Functions explores metal clusters and gas hydrates (which are the two broad categories of molecular solids), aiming to bridge the gap between molecular and bulk materials.

  • Technologies for Low Carbon and Lean Construction (TLC2)

In the realm of sustainable development, the Technologies for Low Carbon and Lean Construction (TLC2) CoE focuses on reducing the environmental impact of the construction industry. The construction industry contributes nearly 20-30% of global CO2 emissions, making it one of the world’s most pollutive industries. The carbon footprint of the industry and of building projects are generally affected by four factors: building design, construction material, construction process and operations. The TLC2 CoE looks at ways to address this issue, particularly to improve construction material and processes by researching the use of biomass generated ash in manufacturing, the recycling of concrete from demolition, and the adoption of AI enabled processory engineering, including digitalisation, robotics, and 3-D printing. By amalgamating the various processes under its study and in existence, the TLC2 CoE aims to create a holistic ecosystem to help build a circular economy in the construction industry.

  • Healthcare and Assistive Technologies

The Healthcare and Assistive Technologies CoE, spread across 7 departments with 15 industry projects, 17+ patents and over 40 industry collaborators, aims to make affordable healthcare and assistive technologies more accessible to society. With a focus on medical technology advancements, this center is poised to make a significant impact on healthcare.

  • Maritime Experiments to Maritime Experience (Me2Me)

The Me2Me CoE aspires to position India as a global leader in maritime research. Through extensive simulations, large-scale experiments, and real-world applications, this center aims to advance fields such as Real Time Dredging Monitoring, E-navigation, Green-ship Initiatives, Climate Change and Nearshore Morpho-dynamics, Terminals and Quayside digitalisation, Vessel traffic management system, thereby transforming maritime experiences.

  • Centre for Quantum Information, Communication and Computing (CquICC)

CQuICC combines interdisciplinary expertise to tackle key challenges. With a focus on quantum networks, computing, and simulations, this center explores the immense potential of quantum theory in areas such as AI, secure communication, drug design, and finance.

  • Center of Excellence in Sports Science and Analytics

The Center of Excellence in Sports Science and Analytics, which utilizes AI and data science to unravel the intricacies of sports performance. By employing physics-based, data-driven, and sensor and IoT driven approaches, this center aims to revolutionize the Indian sporting scene.

  • Centre for Soft Matter

The Centre for Soft Matter at IIT Madras is dedicated to the fascinating study of “soft matter,” which refers to materials that can be easily deformed. This CoE focuses on evaporation driven self-assembly, smart sensors and actuators, food and agri-use case, and the study of biological materials. By delving into these areas, the researchers aim to make groundbreaking discoveries with applications in disease diagnosis, healthcare, agriculture, and more.

  • Center of Excellence in RF, Analog, and Mixed Signal ICs

The Center of Excellence in RF, Analog, and Mixed Signal ICs is at the forefront of research in India in the field of analog and mixed-signal IC design. This CoE studies Analog, RF, and mixed-signal ICs, which is foundational in converting real-world signals into digital form, and for storing, processing and transporting these signals.

  • Atomistic Modelling and Materials Design

IIT Madras’s Atomistic Modelling and Materials Design CoE focuses on the innovation and design of new materials using a combination of quantum and classical mechanics, statistical and thermodynamic methods. The center focuses on magnetism, superconductivity, and topological quantum phases, as well as the exploration of glassy phases of matter.

  • Geophysical Flows Lab

The Geophysical Flows Lab at IIT Madras specializes in studying natural fluid phenomena occurring in the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. These geophysical flows influence global circulation patterns, energy budget, weather patterns, extreme events, transport of natural species & pollutants, and the evolution of environmental health. Of particular significance to the CoE is the air-sea interactions over the north Indian Ocean, which influence the Indian monsoon.

  • Centre for Cancer Genomics and Molecular Therapeutics (CGMT)

The CGMT at IIT Madras focuses on studying the genomic landscape of pancreatic cancer within the Indian population. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death worldwide, and the CGMT aims to address this challenge by conducting comprehensive multi-omic analyses. By identifying potentially novel diagnostic biomarkers and extracting biological insights, the center strives to make advancements in cancer research, particularly tailored to the Indian context.

  • Quantum Center for Diamond and Emergent Materials (Qucendiem)

Qucendiem explores the fascinating realm of quantum phenomena and their applications. By utilizing advanced photon sources and state-of-the-art techniques, such as angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy and time-resolved spectroscopy, the CoE investigates electronic correlations in quantum materials and systems. Their research contributes to the development of quantum technologies and sheds light on fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics.

  • Energy Consortium

The Energy Consortium at IIT Madras plays a pivotal role in India’s journey towards achieving Net Zero emissions. By leveraging the expertise of more than 50 faculty members, along with postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows, the consortium provides crucial research and development assistance to Indian industries in their transition towards low-carbon energy systems. Through collaborative efforts, the consortium aims to accelerate decarbonization and make significant contributions to sustainable energy solutions.

This glimpse into the research activities at IIT Madras is just the tip of the iceberg. The institute’s commitment to fostering groundbreaking exploration empowers researchers to conduct cutting-edge experiments and analyses, constantly pushing the boundaries of knowledge. The vast areas of research being pursued at IIT Madras reflect its dedication to advancing scientific understanding and driving innovation.