Material Processing & Device Fabrication

Posted on: October 24th, 2017 by nifs_admin

Material Processing & Device Fabrication project involves experimentation and basic studies in Material Processing and Device Fabrication with emphasis on graphite, graphite-based devices and carbon super capacitors. Also investigations related to solar cells and other electronic devices based on new materials, primarily generated from local minerals.

Work related to graphite will be the exfoliation of graphite and derivation into graphene plates, preparation of graphene thin films and their application in devices such as super capacitors and solar cells. Furthermore, the project plans to conduct research in the area of extremely thin absorber solar cells and developing hole conducting materials to be used in these solar cell devices.

The project ideas stand at the forefront of current research in the areas of Materials Processing and Device Physics, related to Energy Conversion & Storage and Other Electronic Devices. The theme is nationally relevant and highly important. It is geared towards utilization of locally available materials with the aim of adding enormous values to local minerals and plant dyes. The outcomes of the research will help and improve the national economy through developing cutting edge local industries capable of manufacturing solar cells and other electronic devices.

Energy and Advanced Material Chemistry

Posted on: July 17th, 2017 by nifs_admin

The main objective of the Energy & Advanced Material Chemistry project is to carry out research on renewable energy. Research is mainly focused on chemistry and physics of new materials for the conversion of solar energy into chemical and electrical energies. Several research projects such as; Extending and adapting current photovoltaic technology mainly dye-sensitized, Q-dot and polymer solar cells to generate electricity directly from solar radiation; Constructing artificial chemical devices mimicking photosynthesis to collect, direct, and apply solar radiation, for example to split water, convert atmospheric carbon dioxide and thus produce various forms of environmentally clean fuels; Chemical, Electrochemical and Photochemical methods for the purification of air and water are the main research topics of the project. Additionally, the project also involves investigation of low cost water and air purification methods for abatement of industrial pollutants by using sunlight. In the research topics of conversion of solar energy into either electrical or chemical energy mentioned, the fundamental requirements are; sunlight must be absorbed efficiently by light harvesting materials; photoexcited electron and holes must be separated in space to prevent recombination; photoexcited charge must be energetically and kinetically able to perform a chemical transformation. Hence we investigate all these factors in our research.

Bioenergy and Soil Ecosystems

Posted on: June 30th, 2017 by nifs_admin

Bio energy and soil ecosystems are the main research areas investigated in this project with sub projects in each category. The project commenced its activities in 2009 specially focussing on biofuel research. In 2010 the research activities were expanded to study soil C sequestration and management in different vegetation types of Sri Lanka. The bio energy project aims to explore the microbial flora of Sri Lanka to isolate efficient degraders of cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin, study the effect of biofilms and/or co-cultures on degradation of cellulosic biomass. The application of microbial cellulases in other value added products and processes are also under investigation. The project also aims to study possible enhancement of enzyme production by application of different induces. Research on biodiesel production from freshwater cyanobacteria and micro algae is another area under investigation. Isolation of Denitrifying Bacteria and their Potential use in Nitrate Removal from Well Water of Jaffna District is also under investigation. The project on soil C sequestration targets to study soil C sequestration potential, its dynamics and the method of improvement in different major vegetation types of Sri Lanka including natural and plantation forests, agricultural plantations, farm lands, home gardens and small holder cultivations etc. The studies conducted so far by our group are among the few studies reported so far on soil C sequestration in Sri Lanka. Attempts have been initiated now to study C sequestration capacity of lowland paddy soils and to prepare a digital map showing the available C stocks in paddy soils of Sri Lanka.

CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS:

Bio Energy

  1. Microbial Cellulases: The Application in Biofuel production and other value added products and processes
  1. Bio diesel production from fresh water cynobacteria
  1. Isolation of Denitrifying Bacteria and their Potential use in Nitrate Removal from Well Water of Jaffna District.

Soil Ecosystems

  1. Land use and soil C sequestration in North Sri Lanka
  1. Assessment and Mapping of Soil C Stocks in Knuckles Forest Region of Sri Lanka.
  1. Development of baseline soil information system for soil C and other nutrients for paddy growing soils in Sri Lanka

 

Microbial Cellulases and their application in Biofuel production and other value added products and processes

The project explore the microbial flora of Sri Lanka to isolate efficient degraders of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, study the effect of biofilms and/or co-cultures on degradation of cellulosic biomass. The present project also aims to study possible enhancement of enzyme production by formation of co-cultures or biofilm formation.

The enzymes produced by these microorganisms, cellulases are capable of biodegrading lignocellulose. Therefore, apart from main focus on biofuel production these strains will be tested for diverse applications in the industry such as Textile industry, Laundry and detergent, Food and animal feed, Paper and pulp industry etc.

 

Bio diesel production from fresh water cynobacteria

Algae biomass is a potential source of 3rd generation biofuel that could surpass all the others due to its rapid growth and extremely high yield potential. Therefore, the aims and goals of the present study are: Morphological identification of cyanobacteria and other algae in fresh water bodies of Sri Lanka as a suitable feed stock for biodiesel production, Optimizing semi-mass culturing of selected cyanobacteria and other algal species, Isolating the other algal products and value added compounds of commercial interest from the residue of algal biomass, Extraction of fatty acids from selected cyanobacteria and other algal species, Producing bio diesel from extracted lipids.

 

Isolation of Denitrifying Bacteria and their Potential use in Nitrate Removal from Well Water of Jaffna District.

Nitrate contamination of ground water is becoming a serious problem in Jaffna. There has been little research reported on remediation of such pollution except few phytoremediation studies. The aims of the present study is to utilized denitrifying bacteria isolated locally from different sources such as paddy soils, waste water etc for nitrate nitrogen removal from well water of Jaffna.

 

Land use and soil C sequestration in North Sri Lanka

Most field research programs associated with agriculture have attempted to sequester soil C primarily, by enhancing biomass inputs by tillage and residue management. Though the studies are lacking in the tropics fertilizer management could also play a role in C sequestration of agricultural soils. C sequestration and post sequestration losses are reported to be influenced by clay and silt concentrations and microbial activity. Therefore more research is needed, especially for the tropics, to capture the impact of region-specific interactions between climate, soil, and management of resources on C sequestration, which are lost in global level assessments. The objectives of this study were to quantify and compare the available soil nutrients, soil texture and structural stability under different agricultural land use practices in Northern Sri Lanka and to assess their effects on the organic carbon fractions. The result will help to understand the behaviour of soils in the tropics and manage them effectively.

 

Assessment and Mapping of Soil C Stocks in Knuckles Forest Region of Sri Lanka

Spatially distributed estimates and mapping of soil organic carbon status are important requirements for understanding the role of soil in the global carbon cycle and also for assessing potential environmental responses to climatic changes. Forest soils play an important role due to the large area involved in regional and global scale. Knuckles Man and Biosphere Reserve is a tropical forest ecosystem situated in the South Asian Region. This study aimed at assessing and mapping the potential of soil carbon sequestration in different vegetation types of Knuckles Forest Region (KFR) by using GIS software.

 

Development of baseline soil information system for soil C and other nutrients for paddy growing soils in Sri Lanka

Mapping distribution of soil organic carbon (SOC) has given much attention due to its link to soil health and as a way to offset the rising levels of greenhouse gases by means of long term storage carbon in soils. In this study we explore the drivers of SOC contents in paddy growing soils of Sri Lanka and subsequently carry out digital mapping of SOC contents.

Bio Film Based Bio Fuel Production

Posted on: June 4th, 2017 by nifs_admin

Condensed Matter Physics and Solid State Chemistry

Posted on: May 31st, 2017 by nifs_admin
The Condensed Matter Physics and Solid state Chemistry project of the NIFS focuses on research on synthesizing and characterizing technologically important novel materials for dye sensitized solar cells, rechargeable batteries, electrochromic display devices. Mixed cation effect in electrolytes for dye solar cells and tri-layer TiO2 photoanodes for efficiency enhancement are some of the recent original research findings of the group. A low cost, polymer nanofibre water filter is another important finding by this group. Developing nanofibres by electrospinning, synthesizing colloidal quantum dots as sensitizers for high efficiency solar cells and  application of silver nanofibres for efficiency enhancement are some of the ongoing projects.

 

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Nanotechnology & Physics of Materials

Posted on: May 29th, 2017 by nifs_admin

Nanotechnology and Physics of Materials are two of the most progressive branches in the Materials Science and Technology field. Among them, the nanotechnology is considered as a key technology for the future to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications.

Sri Lanka is well known for processing a variety of economically useful minerals, which are mainly being exported as cheap raw materials but playing a main role in global materials based industry. Proper value addition to our economically useful local materials has almost been lacking, due to dearth of advanced scientific research conducting in the country. However, the recently endorsed National Nanotechnology Initiative facilitates scientists to investigate into applications in nanotechnology with a view to add value in practically every aspects of our exports hence achieving technological progress and competitiveness.

The Nanotechnology and Physics of Materials Project of NIFS commenced its work in January 2013. At present, the following two sub projects, which emphasize on the basic and fundamental scientific aspects on advanced synthetic materials and advanced materials derived from Sri Lankan minerals, are carried out under this project.

Study of mechanism and effect of dopents in advanced transition metal semiconductors

Preliminarily, the effect of the precursor on crystal growth in nano particle formation is investigated in order to understand the mechanisms to control the size of the particles from sub micron to nano scales. The gain knowledge is extended to prepare advanced transition metal semiconducting materials with appropriate particle size. Further, fundamental scientific investigations are carried out to study the mechanism and the effect of dopents on electrical and electrochemical property enhancement of these advanced transition metal semiconducting materials. The long term objectives of this sub-project are twofold as follows. Development of efficient mechanisms and techniques for synthesizing nano particles. Introduction of performance enhanced advanced transition metal semiconducting materials for electrochemical energy conversion applications such as Li-ion, Na-ion and Mg-ion rechargeable batteries.

Investigation of ion intercalation in advanced materials derived from Sri Lankan minerals

Primarily, investigations on deriving advanced materials out of abundant Sri Lankan minerals are carried out under this sub project. These advanced materials derived from the local minerals will then be subjected to fundamental investigations on structural modification in atomic/nano scale. Furthermore, advanced scientific investigations on ion intercalation/de-intercalation mechanisms and electrochemical behaviour of these intercalated materials will be carried out.The long term objective of this sub-project is the conversion of Sri Lankan natural minerals in to highly upgraded advanced materials such as high purity graphite, surface modified graphite, extended graphite, graphene and nano-carbon composites…etc, which are pricey materials for a number of advanced nano technological and high-tech industrial applications. Moreover, application oriented performance enhancement of these developed materials are carried out specially aiming for energy conversion applications such as in rechargeable batteries.

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