Science and Technolgy Current Affairs - 2019

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IISER researchers use human hair to produce cheaper cathodes for solar cells

Researchers from Kolkata based Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) have produced cost-effective, metal-free cathodes using human hair for use in solar cells.

Significance: This is the first instance where a bio-waste-derived electrode (in this case human hair) has been used as cathode in a quantum dot sensitised solar cell device.

Key Facts

  • IISER researchers have developed graphitic porous carbon cathode by cleaning and drying human hair and treating with sulphuric acid to achieve precarbonisation.
  • It was then heated at different temperatures in the presence of inert gas for six hours to carbonise and bring better electrical conductivity for efficient charge transfer.
  • This efficient green cathode achieves highly catalytic graphitic porous carbon stage at optimum temperature of 850 degrees C.


  • Producing graphitic porous carbon cathode using human hair is simple, quick and inexpensive. It has potential to bring down the cost of solar cells.
  • The bio-waste-derived cathode has higher efficiency to convert visible sunlight to electricity. It also enhances the power conversion efficiencies.
  • It generates high open-circuit voltage compared to conventional platinum and activated carbon cathodes.
  • It is metal-free cathode, while commonly used cathode is made of platinum metal and metal sulfides.

India’s first LIGO laboratory to come up in Hingoli, Maharashtra

India’s first LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) laboratory will be set up in Aundh in Hingoli district of Maharashtra.

It will be third such laboratory in the world and first outside the United States. The existing two laboratories are located in Hanford, Washington and in Livingston, Louisiana.

Key Facts

  • The site at Aundh in Hingoli district has been chosen for carrying out experiments on the ambitious LIGO project that proved existence of gravitational waves.
  • It was selected based on site researches conducted by scientists from Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • The setup of LIGO-India laboratory will involve construction of 8 km-long beam tube at ultra- high vaccum on a levelled terrain.
  • The Aundh site is suitable flat site for carrying out the experiments as the four kms strips require an unhindered straight and flat site for studying the lasers.
  • The LIGO-India laboratory will help to bring considerable opportunities in cutting edge technology for Indian industries.


  • A MoU to set up the LIGO-India project was signed between the scientists from the US’ National Science Foundation (NSF) and India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the DST in April 2016.
  • Earlier in February 2016, the Union Cabinet had given its in-principle approval to the LIGO-India mega science proposal for research on gravitational waves.

For more Information: (i) Cabinet Approval (ii) India-US MoU (iii) Gravitational Waves