Assam scientist bags Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award for pioneering work

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After a gap of twenty years, a scientist from Assam has bagged the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award for his pioneering research on coal and energy.

Dr Binoy Kumar Saikia is among the 11 scientists under 45 years of age who bagged the award given for seven categories by Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) this year. He is the lone recipient in the Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean and Planetary Sciences category.

“Dr. Saikia has made outstanding contributions on the formation of fluorescent carbon quantum dots (CQDs) from Indian coal. His indigenous patented CQD technology for diverse applications falls under ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India programme), leading to import substitution,” the CSIR citation for Saikia read.

Discovered accidentally in 2004, CQDs are small carbon nano-particles with size less than 10 nm (nano metre). Number of studies have been done worldwide in using fluorescent properties of CQDs, which have high stability, good conductivity, low toxicity and are environmental friendly, for various applications including medicine and environmental science.

“I am elated to have been selected for this honour. The award recognises the last five years of work I have done in this field,” said Saikia, a senior scientist at Jorhat-based CSIR-North East Institute of Science and Technology (CSIR-NEIST).

Based in Jorhat since the past 11 years, the 44-year-old, who hails from Golaghat in Assam, has been involved in various projects related to coal and petroleum found in the state and the rest of northeast.

With 65 published works and several awards including RP Bhatnagar Award in 2015-16 and Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award in 2012, Saikia plans to continue his research in the field and help bring down import of CQDs.

“The fluorescent CQDs of Indian coal developed by us is much cheaper than imported ones and will help reduce dependency on other countries. It can have multiples uses including in medical science,” said Saikia.

Saikia is the 5th person from Assam to bag the award after Mihir Kanti Chaudhuri (1989), Jitendra Nath Goswami (1994), Bhupendra Nath Goswami (1995) and Prashant Goswami (2001).

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