Big ideas, tiny tech

Chennupati Jagadish

Indian-Australian physicist Chennupati Jagadish (or Jagadish for short) has some huge ideas about tiny devices. As a highly regarded professor at Australian National University, Jagadish specialises in nanotechnology and high-precision engineering.

Working at the scale of atoms and molecules, he and his team of specialists are developing new and exciting technologies in the field of optoelectronics.

“What is optoelectronics?” says Jagadish. “Well, converting electricity into light, like in LEDs and lasers and converting light into electricity like in solar cells and photodetectors.”

A simple example of this in action is the solar panel, a device that converts light into energy.

“In the future,” says Jagadish, “you may have a flexible solar cell on your backpack to charge your phone and other devices, so you won’t have to depend on power sockets…These are just some of the functions of optoelectronics. We make some of the smallest lasers in the world. To give you an idea of how small, we can fit 20 lasers within the width of a single hair. These lasers have future applications in green internet and biosensors”

It’s incredible stuff, made possible by Jagadish’s unmatched skill, determination and innovation. One of the areas that interests him most is implementing nanotechnology and optoelectronics into the brain.

“All of us have close to 80+ billion neurons,” says Jagadish, “and these neurons form a network. If there’s any damage to that network…you get brain damage and lose human functions. We’ve been thinking about how to use nanotechnology to engineer neurons, to create neural patches that can help people get back their brain functions.”

Given that his research is at the cutting edge of science and technology, and may have profound and positive effects on the future, it’s no surprise that Jagadish was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia in 2016. In fact, the only person who was surprised by this recognition was Jagadish himself!

“As an immigrant from a small village in India, who only arrived 25 or so years earlier, to be considered for a Companion of the Order of Australia was completely unexpected. I was humbled and I’m grateful for that honour and recognition.”

We were humbled and grateful to get a chance to speak with Chennupati Jagadish recently, and he had some truly inspiring stories and advice.

Read the full interview with Jagadish from our ‘Australia & India. A Dynamic Mix’ series.

Learn more about the economic potential of the Australia-India partnership in An India Economic Strategy to 2035 – Navigating from potential to delivery

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