A few leading Indian technological innovation establishments – IIT Bombay, Gauhati University and the Gandhinagar-based Dhirumbhai Ambani Institute of Info and Interaction Engineering – have joined arms to produce substantial-tech sensors for use in agriculture.

The use of sensors in agriculture is not entirely new. These very small solutions, positioned less than the soil, detect parameters this kind of as humidity and temperature and support wonderful-tune inputs for larger create. Bosch, for example, has a suite of solutions for this function.

Having said that, the sensors created by the three establishments is additional hello-tech and can be hooked on to compatible with Internet-of-Items (IoT). They feature ‘ultra-little graphene particles’, designed from graphene quantum dots, which are nano-sized fragments of graphene. Graphene, by the way, is a material designed of Carbon, wherever the Carbon atoms are organized as a honey-comb sheet. The arrangement of atoms imparts the material a few superb properties—graphene has been explained to be “harder than diamond but additional elastic than rubber, harder than steel, but lighter than aluminium.”

Graphene quantum dots are disc-formed products designed of a few levels of graphene, measuring mere nanometers they have been scoped for a range of sensing purposes. Synthesising graphene dots, even so, is not uncomplicated.

The undertaking was funded by the Department of Science and Engineering, Federal government of India, the University Grants Fee, the Assam Science Engineering and Environmental Council.

Graphene quantum dots

Researchers engaged with the undertaking managed to create graphene quantum dots of the dimensions of about 3-five nano meters from graphene oxide. Performing this included a good deal of scientific jiggery-poggery, this kind of as coating graphene oxide on to a carbon electrode, putting it in an electrolyte and passing present-day via the established up. In the conclusion, they acquired their graphene quantum dots and with it they designed sensors, each individual no bigger than a grain of lentil. These sensors are purposed for measuring the humidity information in the soil, which is mentioned to be the most critical parameter in agriculture.

How the sensors do the job is yet another subject matter by itself—the additional the humidity the considerably less they are resistant to current—but suffice to say that they give a examining in three minutes and are fantastic to be made use of yet again after 20 seconds. The scientists have checked out the stability of the item by employing it continually for approximately 6 months. The sensors gave reliable examining all over the time period and was uncovered ideal for a assortment of soil water stages.

Now that the item is prepared, the scientists are rubbing their palms for “copious field testing”, Hemen Kumar Kalita, one of the scientists, advised Small business Line. Dr Kalita is an Assistant Professor of Physics a the Gauhati University.

Replying to an e mail, Kalita mentioned that when developed on a commercial scale, these sensors would be incredibly inexpensive to farmers—about Rs 1,500 apiece.

Questioned how these sensors look at with people presently in the market place (this kind of as Bosch’s), Kalita mentioned they have been far better equally in conditions of precision and costs and could be interfaced with IoT “which tends to make this item technically additional worthwhile.”

In conditions of ‘Technology readiness level” (or TRL, which is measured on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 currently being market place-prepared,) Kalita mentioned the item was at TRL-seven. “We will perform copies field testing to guarantee dependability and stability of the item,” he mentioned.

The establishments intend to license the technological innovation to start out-ups.