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Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar awardee’s demystification of transformation of glass to crystal can help dispose liquid nuclear waste safely

New Delhi:17/10/20: Glass is a non-crystalline, often transparent amorphous solid which is mostly formed by the rapid cooling of its molten form. However, under certain conditions, during its formation, the molten glass may rebel and transform into a crystal – the more stable state, an avoidable process called devitrification.

However, the process of devitrification remains poorly understood as this process can be extremely slow, and this makes it difficult to study it. Scientists have now visualized devitrification in an experiment, thus taking a step closer to understanding it. This could help avoid devitrification in processes of pharma industries – a sector in which dodging this is of paramount importance. This is because an amorphous drug dissolves faster than after devitrification, and ensuring that it remains amorphous is therefore essential during storage.

A team of researchers led by Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize recipient in Physical Sciences (2020) category Prof. Rajesh Ganapathy from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of Indiain collaboration with Prof. Ajay Sood (IISC) and their graduate student Ms. DivyaGanapathi (IISC) observed glass made of colloidal particles and monitored their dynamics over several days.

Using real-time monitoring of the particles with an optical microscope and machine learning methods to determine subtle structural features hidden in the glass, they identified a parameter called ‘softness’, which determines the extent of devitrification. They found that regions in the glass which had particle clusters with large “softness” values were the ones that crystallized and that “softness” was also sensitive to the crystallization route.

The authors fed their machine learning model pictures a colloidal glass, and the model accurately predicted the regions that crystallized days in advance. The authors suggest that techniques to tune “softness” by introducing impurities may help realize long-lived glass states, which has numerous technological applications. The research published in the journal Nature Physics can also help in vitrification of liquid nuclear waste as a solid in a glass matrix to safely dispose it deep underground and prevent hazardous materials from leaking into the environment

[For more details, Prof. Rajesh Ganapathy’s (rajeshg@jncasr.ac.in; 98806 71639) can be contacted.]

About Ashok Palit

Ashok Palit has completed his graduation from Upendranath College Soro, Balasore and post graduation from Utkal University in Odia Language and literture.. He has also carved out a niche for himself as a scribe of eminence after joining the profession in 1988. He is also an independent media production professional. He brings loads of experience to Advanced Media, Ashok Palit as a cineaste has been active in film criticism for over three decades. As a film society activist, he soared to eminence for his profound commitment to the art film appreciation and aesthetics of cinema. His mode of discourse is often erudite but always lucid and comprehensible marked by a perfect acumen so rare in the field. A film aesthete with an immense fond of critical sensibilities, he wrote about growth and development of odia cinema in New Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Asian Age and Screen. He has been working as an Editor for Cine Samaya from 2002-2004.. He had made solid contribution on cinema in many odia Dailies and weekly such as Samaj, Prajatantra, Dharatri, Samaya, Satabadi, and weekly Samaya.

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