Dr Samir Chikkali receiving the Award at the hands of Hon'ble Minister, Chemicals and Fertilizers, Shri Sadananda Gowda
Dr Samir Chikkali, Principal Scientist from Polymer Science and Engineering Division, CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL), Pune, and his team, including Mr RavindraGote, Dr Dipa Mandal, Dr Ketan Patel, Mr Krishnaroop Chaudhuri, Dr C.P. Vinod, and Dr Ashish Lele, have received the 10th National Award for Technology Innovation in the category of “Innovations in Polymeric Materials” for their work on disentangled ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene. He has also been named the recipient of the Professor Kaushal Kishore Memorial Award 2020, by the Society of Polymer Science, India.
The National Awards for Technology Innovation were instituted to incentivize meritorious innovations and inventions in various fields of petrochemicals and downstream plastics processing industry by the Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Government of India. In the edition of the 10th National Awards, out of 273 nominations filed, 4 nominations were selected as Winners and 9 as Runners-up for 2019-20.
Dr Chikkali and his team have designed and synthesised a set of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts that deliver super-strong polyethylene. It is called “Disentangled Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (dUHMWPE).” The catalyst produces dUHMWPE with molecular weights in millions (1-10 million g/mol). Thus prepared nascent dUHMWPE is thermally stable (melting temperature of 141-144°C) and displays high modulus (strength). The commercial UHMWPE requires a non-eco-friendly solvent processing, while the dUHMWPE produced by the inventor can be processed without any solvent. dUHMWPE can be used for bulletproof materials, anti-ballistic applications, prosthetics, and highly demanding applications.
India imports a large amount of UHMWPE every year. Therefore, with an increasing emphasis on ensuring a secure supply chain to become “Aatmnirbhar” and the desire to be less dependent on imports, the domestic development of dUHMWPE is slated to attract significant interest from strategic and commercial sectors.
Professor Kaushal Kishore Memorial Award is given by the Society for Polymer Science India (SPSI) to recognise and encourage young outstanding talent with a demonstrated potential to excel in the field of polymer science.
Dr Chikkali obtained his PhD from the University of Stuttgart, Germany, under the supervision of Prof. Dietrich Gudat in 2007. Subsequently, he did postdoctoral research at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands and the University of Konstanz, Germany. In 2012, he joined CSIR-NCL, to start his independent research career.
Dr Chikkali has authored more than 55 research papers in international peer-reviewed journals.He has 15 patents in India and abroad and has guided six students for PhD and five post-doctoral fellows. Currently, he leads a team of 12 researchers in polyolefins, organometallics and renewable/degradable polymers. Dr Chikkali has been recognised with several awards including Dutch Polymer Institute postdoctoral fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship, The Ramanujan Fellowship by DST, Best Scientist Award by North Maharashtra University, Scientist of the Year Award 2016-2017 by NCL-Research Foundation and, Young Associate of Maharashtra Academy of Sciences 2017.