Multifunctional and 2-D Materials

This thrust aims at investigating the science and engineering of multifunctional and non-traditional 2-D materials and exploiting their unique thermal, mechanical and electrical properties for a broad market segment ranging from transportation through consumer products to the electronic industry.

Science and Engineering of Graphene Coatings and Foams

The newly established graphene laboratory at VT India has the capability for the synthesis and characterization of graphene oxide and reduced graphene oxide and a user-friendly process for coating graphene and graphene oxide on various substrates.

In one of our projects, we will investigate the boiling and condensation heat transfer from surfaces modified by graphene and its derivatives. Graphene is known to be hydrophobic and can serve as an excellent material for promoting drop-wise condensation with orders of magnitude better heat transfer than for film-wise condensation. In addition, such coatings can serve to produce multilayered super-hydrophobic surfaces for robust water repellency and reduced drag. Graphene oxide, on the other hand, is hydrophilic. Understanding transport phenomena in condensation and boiling heat transfer from surfaces modified by the patterned coatings of graphene and graphene oxide is expected to reveal unexpected phenomena which can be exploited commercially for developing heat exchangers with superior performance. Other innovative and potentially high-impact research is centered on the development of graphene foams and graphene-based thermal grease for the IC industry. This project will be led by Dr. S. Gupta under the guidance of Professor Mahajan of Virginia Tech.

Advanced Multifunctional Materials

This research program focuses on exploring the interface between physics and material science to innovate in the critical field of advanced multifunctional materials. Our current research on ferroelectrics, piezoelectrics and multiferroics is driven by many long-term technological aspirations with state-of-the-art sensors, nonvolatile memories, and spintronic devices, to name a few. A major slice of our effort emphasizes exploring the fundamental science of these materials to gain deeper understanding about structure-property relationships, which consequently can bring about a significant shift in the research and applications of these materials. The goal is to establish the correlation among crystallography, crystallographic anisotropy, domains and domain-dynamics on electro-mechanical behavior of ferroelectrics, piezoelectrics and multiferroics. Electron paramagnetic resonance and other characterization techniques are used to investigate the presence of ionic defects, their mutual interaction, and subsequent impact on the functional behavior of these materials.

Another facet of our research focuses on gradual advancement of the functional behavior of a few technologically vital multifunctional materials to advance their feasibility for device applications. We utilize scientific methods and processing techniques to engineer some of the key functional properties of materials such as sodium potassium niobate, bismuth ferrite, and other lead-based perovskites. We intend to utilize some of these materials with improved functional behavior for device applications. Considering the exciting prospects for multifunctional oxides at nanoscale, some of this effort will be devoted to the synthesis of size-controlled nanoparticles and their characterization for a variety of applications. Lead Research Scientist: Dr. S. Gupta

Sustainable Energy and Water

This research thrust is centered on meeting the escalating demands in energy, and clean drinking water for an expanding world population, sustainably through innovation in technology and practice.

This project focuses on developing experimental capabilities to evaluate designs for the cooling of gas turbines. Virginia Tech has unique expertise and cutting-edge capabilities in the field of Gas Turbine Heat Transfer, including unique algorithms and codes and the thermochromic liquid crystal technique providing high fidelity, two-dimensional maps of heat transfer behavior inside complex cooling channels and on turbine surfaces.This technology will be replicated in the newly established gas turbine heat transfer laboratory in Virginia Tech India in Chennai.

The laboratory’s researchers will be engaged in effective modeling of cooling channels and geometries and heat transfer measurements. These detailed heat transfer measurements will provide both qualitative and quantitative assessment for evaluating cooling designs generated by engine companies. The liquid crystal apparatus will include GoPro cameras, liquid crystals, specialized lighting equipment, valves and flow networks and heaters along with post-processing tools including Matlab. These methods are relatively cost effective and will have high impact for industry and potential research sponsors in India. This project will be led by Dr. Jaideep Pandit under the guidance of Prof. Srinath V Ekkad of Virginia Tech.

Cost-Effective, Low-Speed Wind Energy Harvester

The renewable energy research focuses on harvesting energy in new ways from wind, sun, ocean, and mechanical vibrations such as those produced on railroad tracks. The facility houses a state-of-the-art low speed wind tunnel, which researchers can use to develop high-efficiency wind turbines by optimizing their aerodynamic and structural performance. One of the current projects, led by Dr. Myoor Padmanabhan, is centered on designing a cost-effective, low speed wind energy harvester for small households.

Porous Graphene and its Composites for Drinking Water

Guided by Professor Mahajan of Virginia Tech, this project focuses on exploring the large scale and inexpensive deployment of nanoporous graphene and its composites for the desalination and filtration of water. Among the most innovative projects is the use of silkworm cocoons modified by coating of graphene and (or) graphene oxide as filters for dirty air and water. These projects will be carried out in the graphene research laboratory at Virginia Tech India, which will also be equipped with a test facility to measure the permeability and performance characteristics of graphene-based filters. These projects will complement similar research currently underway in Professor Mahajan’s laboratory at Virginia Tech.

Waste to Wealth

In its early stages, this project, as the name implies, aims to address the nexus of food, energy, and water by developing effective and efficient technologies for recovering useful energy from food, beverage, and agricultural wastes/wastewater, achieving the reuse of water for food and agricultural process and for accomplishing resource recovery (e.g., ammonium).

Bioinformatics and Biotechnology

A major goal of this thrust is to develop fundamentally innovative techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases by exploiting phenomena that dominate at the micro and nano-scales. Examples of current research projects include development of micro thermal and electrical conductivity probes, which can serve as excellent tools to isolate malignant tissues from healthy ones and assist in delivering effective and accurate thermal doses for the treatment of diseased tissues such as cancerous tumors

A related project aims at developing a smart biopsy tool to prevent seeding of cancers in healthy tissues during the deployment of the tool. Another focus is on investigating unexplored pathways and alternative treatments for cancer and other diseases afflicting under-served communities.

Aerospace Engineering

Recent advances in the aerospace domain present new and exciting opportunities for research and innovation in topics that include manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, propulsion and energy, hypersonic vehicles, and advanced materials and structures.


Virginia Tech India Research and Education Forum is housed in a building belonging to Dr. MGR Deemed University (MGR-DU) with which we signed an MOU on 20th November 2015. This agreement allows VT India to lease 7,000 square feet of research and 3,000 square feet of office/conference space at highly subsidized rates, with a provision to lease up to an additional 20,000 square feet space. The agreement also calls for Dr. MGR-DU to make available, on a non-exclusive basis, classroom space with global video-conferencing capabilities for VT to offer non-credit executive/professional courses. 

The agreement also stipulates that Dr. MGR-DU will outfit the laboratory space with research equipment to kick-start the research program in a few selected areas. In return, VTIREF will provide research internship opportunities for Dr. MGR-DU students, and explore mutually agreed upon and beneficial collaborative research, where possible.