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US president-elect Joe Biden
US president-elect Joe Biden

What Joe Biden saw at IIT Bombay

US president-elect Joe Biden's visit to IIT Bombay seven years ago holds vital clues to new areas of scientific cooperation between the US and India under his presidency

NEW DELHI : The Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-Bombay) has a wish -- to welcome back “this gentleman".

It means US president-elect Joe Biden, who visited the vaunted engineering institute back in 2013, when he showed a keen interest in its research on nano-sensors to detect explosive devices.

“It is interesting to note that this gentleman visited IIT Bombay in 2013 and is now the President Elect of the United States of America …We look forward to your visit again Mr. Biden," the senior IIT Bombay official said in a social media post.

Biden was shown the institute’s work in nanotechnology and microprocessors, and wanted to know all about how nano-sensors can help detect improvised explosive devices (IEDs) – mostly crude bombs that have increasingly found favour with terrorists around the world.

Biden, then the vice president of the US, spent about two hours in the nano-electronics lab discussing the cutting edge technology with female students, the IIT said.

Students showed him “nano-sensors built in the lab for various purposes including cardiac monitoring and detection of explosives and IEDs. Mr. Biden was especially interested in the latter application and listened patiently as Nehul (a student) explained the details of how the sensor operates."

According to the IIT, Biden, coming out of the lab, met the waiting Indian officials, to whom he “excitedly described to them the nano-sensor applications that he had heard about inside, focusing particularly on the details of the IED sensors".

The visit, which took place on July 25, 2013, included a closed-door interaction with a group of female women PhD students, and a tour of the IIT-B nanofabrication facility (IITBNF) in the electrical engineering department and the geochemistry and geochronology labs in the earth sciences department.

He also saw research experiments, undertaken in the “clean room", aimed at developing advanced logic and memory devices, solar photovoltaics and other such devices.

IITs, established in 1956, have long been at the forefront of India’s ambitions and strides in science and technology.

With Biden now the president-elect, his may give a glimpse of the areas that might interest him as works to develop US ties with India, other than trade – defence, earth sciences, clean energy and climate change.

“During this tour, Mr Biden got a compelling snapshot of IITBNF where students and researchers from all over India as well as international organizations get hands-on access to a state-of-the-art nano-electronics research facility for fabricating tiny devices which serve as instruments of fundamental research as well as technological advancement in areas of computation and communication, healthcare and security," said IIT Bombay.

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