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Indian defence to use nanotechnology, ties up with startup Log 9

Nanotechnology, a nascent but one of the fastest growing areas of science and industry, will soon see its first commercial application for Indian defence forces.

Bengaluru-based Log 9 Materials will collaborate with the defence to help it build various products and applications while conserving energy, said Akshay Singhal, founder of the nanotechnology startup.

Nanotechnology involves production and manipulation of matter on a tiny scale, with at least one dimension sized between 1-100 nanometres, or one billionths of a metre. The field has boundless potential in sectors ranging from health and medicine to defence and textiles.

Log 9 Materials is essentially looking at various ways of using graphene — a form of carbon that is also called ‘wonder material’ because it’s the lightest, strongest, thinnest, best heat- and electricity- conducting material discovered yet, just one atom thick — for filtering and energy conservation.

The company has already built lead acid batteries with high efficiency by incorporating graphene.

“When we use graphene, the productivity naturally gets better and as it renders higher capacity without draining the battery,” said Singhal, an IIT Roorkee alumnus who founded Log 9 in 2015. “These batteries’ life is increased by 1.3x time when we use graphene in it,” he added.

Log 9 has started manufacturing these batteries at a commercial scale and will help the defence in building various applications while conserving energy.

The company has also tied up with Engineers India Ltd (EIL), a state-owned firm that provides technical services to petroleum refineries and other industrial projects, to help in refining oil.

Under this collaboration, Log 9 is building a membrane to separate oil from water by repelling oil and retaining water, Singhal, 23, told ET.

“Graphene’s filtration works differently as it absorbs unwanted particles once the substance is passed through it,” he said. “The processes for purification are different — for instance, air is different from oil — but the fundamentals remain the same, which is absorption.”

In 2016, Log 9 launched a cigarette filter through a tie-up with a pharmaceutical company.

The firm, which has a research and development centre in Bengaluru, has also collaborated with the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc) to develop products jointly by using the latter’s analytical and research capabilities.

While nanotechnology has huge potential to impact everyday life, it has yet to attract Indian talent and entrepreneurs in a big way.

The country has just about 50 active nanotech startups and out of them only five have been funded so far, according to startup data platform Tracxn. The total funding Indian nanotech startups have raised is estimated at around $0.3 million, or about Rs 1.93 crore.

Log 9 Materials, which had raised an undisclosed amount of funding in pre-Series A, is now in talks to raise its next round of funding.

In India, the Government has invested over Rs 1000 crore funding in 2007 for five years through the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Nano Science and Technology Initiative (NSTI) to provide research and infrastructure. However, the progress made has not been significant.

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