IITH pioneers 5G research
Dr. Kiran Kuchi, Associate Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering has tabled India's first set of standards essential patents (SEP) in 5G technology before the international body that sets the standards.
The patented technology was presented at a conference held in Spokane, U.S., on April 3, 2017 by 3GPP - Third Generation Partnership Project, the international body that defines global cellular radio standards including 2G, 3G, 4G and now 5G. It may take nearly a year to get the nod for 5G specifications. Once the 5G specifications are cleared, the telecommunication manufacturers will have to adhere to the specification approved by 3GPP.
The Indian delegation, led by Prof. Kiran Kuchi, Associate Professor, IIT Hyderabad, introduced an indigenously developed waveform technology that forms the backbone feature in the uplink of 5G networks. The waveform was developed by principal inventor Prof. Kuchi and co-inventor Dr. J Klutto Milleth, Chief technologist, Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT), an R&D society under IIT Madras.
These Indian organizations participated in 3GPP through Telecom Standards Development Society India (TSDSI), an Indian SDO (Standards Development Organization) backed by the Government of India. Though new entrants to 3GPP, the Indian delegation has established as a key global player in setting global 5G standards. The research was funded by Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
Explaining the importance of this patent, Prof. Kuchi said, Standards Essential Patents (SEPs) are the ones that are written in the standards that every phone/base station manufacturer has to implement in the device. The SEPs are typically owned by large telecom companies. They derive patent royalties from their portfolio of patents.
The newly introduced uplink (handset to base station link) waveform technology is expected to provide up to two-fold increase in cell coverage, significantly useful to reduce dropped calls and increase the battery life of 5G handsets, he said. Waveform changes typically happen once in decade especially when cellular technologies go through a generational change. India bagged this opportunity and started leading the development of 5G standards in a big way, added Prof. Kuchi.
India at present pays a significant amount of telecommunication product costs in patent royalties. Indigenous patent creation also helps in reducing the outflow of patent royalties drastically. Indian start-up companies, base stations and handset manufacturing industry standards will profit from the current 5G efforts in a big way.
The Indian telecommunications sector is focused on developing 5G wireless technology. Normally in wireless communication, content is converted to bits and transmitted in a waveform. This occupies bandwidth which is scarce and consumes power that is precious. Prof. Kuchi worked to overcome these limitations. The waveform titled "Generalized Precoded OFDM" synthesizes a constant envelope signal without bandwidth expansion. Typical OFDM transmission is not a power efficient method, especially for battery operated devices while the proposed waveform remove these limitations completely.
Prof. Kuchi said that the Indian team developed yet a major invention based on cloud radio access network and Massive multiple-antenna system that uses non-linearly pre-coded waveform that exploits the channel reciprocity properties of TDD frequency bands. This is expected to offer at 3-5 fold increase in network capacity over 4G LTE.
IIT Hyderabad had recently conducted the world's first successful large scale field trial demonstration of this technology that is expected to be incorporated into 5G standards shortly. This solution together with India's waveform invention will not only address India's spectrum requirements, but also aid in increasing the reach of NOFN rural broadband, a digital India initiative by the Government of India.

Fluorine free drinking water
In India, the major source of drinking water is groundwater and excess fluoride content of ground water is a major problem. A research team led by Dr Chandrashekar Sharma of Chemical Engineering Department had demonstrated that jamun seed derived activated carbon can be used as an adsorbent for fluoride removal from groundwater. In Dr Sharma's group activated carbon was prepared by KOH activation of jamun seed powder and subsequent pyrolysis at 900 C. The unique feature of this research is the first time use of jamun seed derived activated carbon as defluoridating agent. Jamun seed powder is commonly used in ayurvedic formulations for treatment of various ailments because of its unique medical properties. However in this work, they have utilized the hydroxyl groups of prepared activated charcoal for fluoride adsorption from contaminated aqueous solutions. The innovation not only offers a novel fluoride adsorbent but also low-cost and efficient material. The preparation of activated carbon from jamun seed powder involves very low cost when compared to commercial adsorbent that are being used for defluoridation purpose.

Novel technology for polystyrene recycling
Polystyrene (PS) is an integral part of global plastic market and a highly valued thermoplastic. The major applications of PS and expanded PS (EPS) include packaging, construction, appliances and electronics. The global demand for PS and EPS increased from 13 million tons in year 2000 to around 14.9 million tons in 2010; which is expected to further grow to approximately 23.5 million tons by year 2020. However, this increase in usage results in proportional increase in the PS waste, which is non-biodegradable and thus leads to a serious impact on health and environment. Also, disposal of the low density Styrofoam (a popular form of EPS) becomes unmanageable as gets easily littered. PS waste management is a serious concern. PS wastes are usually discarded in dumps and landfills or incinerated. The desirable solution for PS waste management is the recycling of PS. However, they are quite labour- and/or energy-intensive. According to a 2004 study by California Integrated Waste Management Board, only 0.8% of PS produced is recycled in the USA. Dr Chandrashekar Sharma and his team have developed a novel and innovative way to recycle PS waste, directly into sub-micron, aligned PS fibers by using extracts from peels of citrus fruits. The citrus peels are generally discarded while processing/using fruit and thus, process developed in this work will also help in managing this agricultural waste. Worldwide, citrus fruits production is more than 31 million tons annually, out of which nearly 50% is waste in form of peel. The process developed to directly recycle waste PS into non-woven fabric using extract from citrus peel waste is clearly an illustration of novel, green, low-energy and cost effective scalable process. Moreover, the fabric obtained is hydrophobic and can selectively absorb oil from water and thus the team has demonstrated its use for oil-water separations leading to applications from day to day household cleaning, waste water treatment, packaging to global requirement of oil spillage remediation.

Cost effective sanitary napkins
The feminine sanitary napkin is an important disposable absorbent hygiene product. Superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) are added in the absorbent core of sanitary napkins in order to improve their absorption capacity. However, they are found to have certain adverse effects on the health of user and also on environment.
IITH researchers lead by Dr Chandrashekar Sharma proposed to replace micron sized fibrils as found in commercial sanitary napkins with electrospun nanofabric due to its large specific surface area and controllable porosity and thus to eliminate the use of SAPs and other chemicals and that too without compromising the performance. Dr Sharma's research group tested electrospun nanofiber based matrix with and without adding superabsorbent polymers for their potential use in female hygiene applications and evaluated their performance in terms of free and equilibrium absorbency, absorbency under load, residue tests and mechanical properties. Results were then compared with commercially available products and they concluded that use of SAPs can be eliminated by considering electrospun nanofibers based matrix as female hygiene products, which may potentially address the related health concerns as well apart from solving disposal problem. Considering the large surface area and porosity, it was found that the electrospun nanofibers provide a better alternative to achieve even higher absorbency that too without adding SAP. Sanitary napkins without SAP can be a solution for its safe disposal therefore, can have global impact in near future. This innovation has won several recognition at several National and International forums such as, Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Award (2015), Gold Medal at iENA International Trade Fair, Germany (2017), Gold Medal, India International Innovation Fair, Vishakhapatnam, and Silver Medal, 2nd World Invention and Innovation Forum, China (2017).

Smart farming solution by IITH researchers
The collaborative research among IITH, IITB, University of Tokyo, IIITH, and PJTSAU had lead to the development of cost-effectibe IoT enabled soil moisture probe. The research at IITH was led by Dr Rajalaskshmi of Electrical Engineering Department. The probe measures soil moisture at variable depths namely 5 cm and 20 cm This battery powered probe supports both short range (IEEE 802.15.4) and long range (LoRa) radio depending on the requirement. The mating mechanism with communication module, makes it easy to replace the probe in case of damages.
Drone based sensing plays a crucial role in this project. Drone mounted with multi-spectral and RGB cameras, are periodically flown over the agriculture fields (rice and maize crops) at PJTSAU for testing. Remote monitoring through field sensors for parameters like soil moisture, soil temperature, ambient temperature, humidity, light intensity, and CO2 is implemented. Drone and field sensor based data is further analysed for different phenotypes and genotypes that aid in selecting the best breed of a particular crop.

e-Skin that mimics human skin
A group of researchers led by Dr Sushmee Badhulika had developed new type of electronic skin (e-skin) on flexible, bio-degradable eraser substrate that can detect minute pressure variations, gesture communication and both tensile and compressive strain. The e-skin was fabricated using a solvent-free approach in a cleanroom-free environment thus making it economically viable and energy efficient device. The overall cost of the device is approx. 10 per sq. in. The e-skin was assembled on human hand, elbow and neck and their corresponding movements and touch sensation were monitored. The entire fabrication process is scalable and can be integrated to large area for mapping spatial pressure distribution. The fabricated device was integrated to Bluetooth wherein the data could be wirelessly transmitted to a smartphone with dedicated application module for each sensing thus enabling smartphone assisted personal healthcare monitoring.