Education & Training News

IISER Bhopal develops effective material to break down chemical warfare agents


Researchers of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Bhopal have developed an effective photocatalyst that absorbs a wide range of solar energy and light to quicken chemical processes in laboratories and industries.

The IISER, Bhopal research team comprising of Shilpi Jaiswal, Madhurima Sarkar, Dr. Arkaprabha Giri & Prof. Abhijit Patra
The IISER, Bhopal research team comprising of Shilpi Jaiswal, Madhurima Sarkar, Dr. Arkaprabha Giri & Prof. Abhijit Patra

A press release issued by the IISER stated that the new material harnesses renewable energy sources for detoxifying harmful substances such as chemical warfare agents comprising of mustard gas simulants like ‘2-chloroethyl ethyl sulfide’ (CEES), and nerve agents, which are highly poisonous chemicals that affect a person’s nervous system.

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The newly developed material called ‘UC-POP-Au’ absorbs the entire spectrum of light, making it a more potent catalyst during chemical processes. It is different from the other types of photocatalysts that although are used in various industries for effective light harvesting, they only absorb UV or high-energy parts of light.

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Notably, the research team coated a small piece of cotton cloth with the UC-POP-Au under direct sunlight to detoxify mustard gas simulant, a popular chemical warfare agent. The material displayed high performance compared to a regular polymer-based photocatalyst, the press release stated.

Additionally, the photocatalyst is also reusable and can be used 5 times over.

Prof. Abhijit Patra from the Department of Chemistry at IISER Bhopal said, “The current investigation unveils a novel direction in the development of advanced light-harvesting porous organic polymer nanocomposite materials, showing potential applications in designing smart protective coatings against chemical warfare agents under natural sunlight conditions.”

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According to the research team, the photocatalyst UC-POP-Au can be used for creating personal protective equipment and also has high application potential as a promising material for various other industries beyond the detoxification of chemical warfare agents.

(For more information, visit the official website)


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