The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) plans to set up a nano-foundry by investing Rs 500 crore to Rs 600 crore. This project will be a cluster with the partnering of IITs and other academic institutions of India.
The breakthroughs in various labs under the DRDO are not only enhancing the capabilities of the armed forces, but also contributing to businesses and the public outside the purview of the defence sector.
“DRDO has invested Rs 200 crore exclusively for nanotechnology applications,” said W Selvamurthy, chief controller (R&D), DRDO, in Bangalore on Wednesday. “These applications will enhance strength and capabilities of missiles. These outcomes are also highly useful to churn out products in healthcare, medicine, sensors, and energy harvesting,” he added.
Nanotechnology has several applications from agriculture to defence. So far, academic institutions are working as islands of excellence and they need to work like a continent of excellence. Research in one specialisation need not be limited to applications in that specialisation. That can contribute a lot in totally different sectors, he added.
“The R&D facilities for nanotechnology can be used by industry and academic institutions for research purpose. Moreover, the DRDO will also fund nano research at the academic institutions,” said Selvamurthy.
One of the labs of DRDO is said to be exclusively working on the safety of nanotechnology for individual and environment. Nanocomposite coatings developed by the Ahmednagar lab will be useful in several anti-corrosive industrial applications.
The Defence Bioengineering and Electromedical lab of DRDO at Bangalore is developing several biosensors that ensure safety of the soldier in the warfare and those applications can revolutionise medical diagnostics.
Very soon, Cipla will take up the production of nano particle drugs that can be directly deposited into lungs, which was originally developed for soldiers at high altitudes.
Meanwhile, M K Bhan, secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Govt of India, said, “We need drivers of innovation and regulation to produce nano champions in the fields of agriculture and healthcare. We should create industry platforms, which will decide where to apply nanotechnology.”
Biomarkers and biodiagnostics can revolutionise the diagnostic industry. For example, high sensitivity detection methods that can trace very low quantities in saliva can actually detect Alzheimer’s disease, which otherwise needs brain tissue, he added.