New Delhi: What gives desserts their texture? Or what makes paints durable? For Dr Ashish Lele, the answers lie at the microscopic level. At the National Chemical Laboratories, Pune, he has been exploring how molecular structures influence the properties of soft materials.
"My work is in the area of soft material.. these are materials that we use in everyday life. Some examples of these are plastics, foods paints. These have micro-structure in them and their performance in the market we can determine by the properties that can be measured in the lab. And my work focuses on relations between structures of these materials, properties of these in lab and performance in the market," he tells us.
Dr Lele's research may revolutionise the way plastics are manufactured today. For instance, plastics shrink on melting and he is well on the way to solving the problem. "what we have found is that in plastic polymers, if you add branches.. then it reduces significantly. It has important applications for the plastic manufacturing industry," he says.
A video of him melding together two polymer gels gives us a sense of his genius. And this is a first for science, which could also revolutionise medical surgery.
"This can have interesting applications. One such is to be able to make wound-healing dressings so that after surgery you don't need to stitch the wound. Just apply gels on either side of wound and bring them close. They will stick," he says.
For bridging the gap between research and everyday application, Dr Lele is a deserving winner of the Infosys Prize 2012.