Current News - PIB News - Science & Technology

'Graphene-Aurora Program' to Foster Innovation in India

On 14th August, 2023, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) Secretary inaugurated the pioneering 'Graphene-Aurora Program' during an event at Maker Village in Kochi, Kerala.

Key Points:

  • Crucial Initiative: This significant initiative, jointly funded by MeitY, the Government of Kerala, and industry partners, including Carborundum Pvt Limited, boasts a substantial budget of Rs 94.85 Crore.
  • Stimulating Innovation and Collaboration: The 'Graphene-Aurora Program' is spearheaded by Digital University Kerala and is set to facilitate groundbreaking advancements in the field of graphene technology.
  • Various Stakeholders: It will encompass collaborative efforts between start-ups, research centres, and industry players to nurture innovation and drive commercialization of cutting-edge technologies. India Innovation Centre Graphene (IICG), stationed at Makers Village, Kochi, will play a pivotal role in this endeavour.
  • Venue: This centre will operate from the recently inaugurated Government of Kerala facility at Digital Science Park in Trivandrum.
  • Fostering a Nurturing Environment: It is envisioned as a comprehensive hub that supports startups and industries in their journey from ideation to market-ready products.
  • Catalyzing India's Position in the Global Landscape: By fostering a thriving ecosystem for graphene technology and innovation, the program aims to facilitate SMEs and startups in scaling up their graphene-based technologies for widespread adoption.

“Aadhaar Hackathon 2021”

  • This year is important for Aadhaar, as it is transitioning to the next decade of its existence, with a renewed objective to further improvise resident experience and various services offered by the UIDAI.
  • To celebrate this momentous occasion, UIDAI is hosting a Hackathon titled “Aadhaar Hackathon 2021” targeted at young innovators - who are still at various Engineering institutes and eager to step into the real world.
  • The hackathon is starting on 28 Oct 21 at 0000Hrs and would continue till 31 Oct 21 up to 2300Hrs.
  • Aadhaar Hackathon 2021 is themed around two topics. The first theme is around “Enrolment and Update”, which essentially covers some of the real-life challenges being faced by the residents while updating their address.
  • The second theme of the Hackathon is around the “Identity and Authentication” solution offered by UIDAI. Under this theme, UIDAI is soliciting innovative solutions to prove Identity without sharing the Aadhaar number or any demographics information. Also, it is looking for innovative applications around face authentication API - the newly launched authentication modality of UIDAI. The objective is to popularize some of the existing and new APIs to solve the needs of residents.
  • To solve these challenges through innovative technological solutions, UIDAI is reaching out to the young minds of all the Engineering colleges.

Scientists trace the Mystery behind Abundance of Heavy Metals in Oldest Metal-Poor Stars

The abundance of heavy metals in oldest metal-poor stars that are born from the ejecta of first stars has intrigued astronomers for long as already known processes of reaction of chemical elements by nuclear fusion within stars (nucleosynthesis) could not explain it.

  • Indian scientists have now found a clue to this abundance in a nucleosythesis process called the i-process.

Metal-poor Stars

  • Metal-poor stars that show enhancement of carbon, technically called Carbon Enhanced Metal Poor (CEMP) stars which were formed from the ejected material of the first stars that formed after the Big Bang, carry the chemical imprints of early Galactic chemical evolution.

Why to probe these Stars?

  • Probing into the formation of these metal-poor stars that exhibit enhancement in carbon as well as the specified heavy elements can help trace the origin and evolution of the elements in the Universe.

Earlier Findings and the Puzzle

  • ‘s’ and ‘r’ Process: Scientists earlier found that heavier elements are produced mainly by two processes of nucleosynthesis– slow and rapid neutron-capture processes called s and r processes respectively.
  • The s-process elements were thought to be produced in low and intermediate mass stars towards a final stage of stellar evolution.
  • The proposed sites of the r- process are exotic events such as supernovae and neutron star mergers.
  • The CEMP stars showing enhancements of s-process and r-process elements are known as CEMP-s and CEMP-r stars respectively.
  • However, there is an another surprising subclass of CEMP stars, known as CEMP-r/s stars which exhibit enhancement of both s- and r-process elements the production process of which had remained a puzzle.

The Finding

  • A group of scientists from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) has achieved a significant advancement in unravelling this puzzle.
  • They have found that an intermediate process which they called i-process operating at neutron densities intermediate between those for s-process and r-process is responsible for the peculiar abundance pattern of CEMP-r/s stars.
  • They have also put forward a new stellar classification criteria based on the abundances of barium, lanthanum and europium to distinguish between the CEMP-s and CEMP-r/s stars.

India’s Deep Ocean Mission

On 16th June, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the proposal of Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) on "Deep Ocean Mission", with a view to explore deep ocean for resources and develop deep sea technologies for sustainable use of ocean resources.

  • Deep Ocean Mission with be a mission mode project to support the Blue Economy Initiatives of the Government of India.
  • The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) will be the nodal Ministry implementing this multi-institutional ambitious mission.

The Deep Ocean Mission consists of the following six major components:

1.Development of Technologies for Deep Sea Mining, and Manned Submersible:

  • A manned submersible will be developed to carry three people to a depth of 6000 metres in the ocean with suite of scientific sensors and tools. Only a very few countries have acquired this capability.
  • An Integrated Mining System will be also developed for mining Polymetallic Nodules from 6000 m depth in the central Indian Ocean.
  • The exploration studies of minerals will pave way for the commercial exploitation in the near future, as and when commercial exploitation code is evolved by the International Seabed Authority, an UN organization. This component will help the Blue Economy priority area of exploring and harnessing of deep sea minerals and energy.

2.Development of Ocean Climate Change Advisory Services

  • A suite of observations and models will be developed to understand and provide future projections of important climate variables on seasonal to decadal time scales under this proof of concept component. This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of coastal tourism.

3.Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep-sea biodiversity

  • Bio-prospecting of deep sea flora and fauna including microbes and studies on sustainable utilization of deep sea bio-resources will be the main focus. This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of Marine Fisheries and allied services.

4.Deep Ocean Survey and Exploration

  • The primary objective of this component is to explore and identify potential sites of multi-metal Hydrothermal Sulphides mineralization along the Indian Ocean mid-oceanic ridges. This component will additionally support the Blue Economy priority area of deep sea exploration of ocean resources.

5.Energy and freshwater from the Ocean

  • Studies and detailed engineering design for offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) powered desalination plant are envisaged in this proof of concept proposal. This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of off-shore energy development.

6.Advanced Marine Station for Ocean Biology

  • This component is aimed as development of human capacity and enterprise in ocean biology and engineering. This component will translate research into industrial application and product development through on-site business incubator facilities. This component will support the Blue Economy priority area of Marine Biology, Blue trade and Blue manufacturing.

The Project will help in Technology Demonstration and Job Creation

  • The technologies required for deep sea mining have strategic implications and are not commercially available. Hence, attempts will be made to indigenise technologies by collaborating with leading institutes and private industries.
  • A research vessel for deep ocean exploration would be built in an Indian shipyard which would create employment opportunities. This mission is also directed towards capacity development in Marine Biology, which will provide job opportunities in Indian industries. In addition, design, development and fabrication of specialised equipment, ships and setting up of required infrastructure are expected to spur the growth of the Indian industry, especially the MSME and Start-ups.

Unique Maritime Position of India and Blue Economy

  • Oceans, which cover 70 per cent of the globe, remain a key part of our life. About 95 percent of Deep Ocean remains unexplored.
  • For India, with its three sides surrounded by the oceans and around 30 per cent of the country's population living in coastal areas, ocean is a major economic factor supporting fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, livelihoods and blue trade.
  • Oceans are also storehouse of food, energy, minerals, medicines, modulator of weather and climate and underpin life on Earth.
  • Considering importance of the oceans on sustainability, the United Nations (UN) has declared the decade, 2021-2030 as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
  • India has a unique maritime position. Its 7517 km long coastline is home to nine coastal states and 1382 islands. The Government of India's Vision of New India by 2030 enunciated in February 2019 highlighted the Blue Economy as one of the ten core dimensions of growth.
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