Professor Ajay K. Sood, Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Science gave an informative Distinguished Lecture on Exciting Physics of Active Matter Inspired by Nature at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) on 2nd April 2018. This lecture brought out how nature inspires us to explore fascinating phenomena like flocking, a self-organized motion of vast numbers individuals of same species in same direction. This is a common behavior seen in many animals like ants, locusts, birds, fishes etc. Prof. Sood said, “As a physicist, I along with my colleagues have tried to understand this beautiful phenomenon in the laboratory by working with inanimate polar granular objects made active by placing them on rapidly vibrating surface amongst spherical beads”.

Prof. Sood further adds, “The conventional macroscopic heat engine, a device to convert thermal energy to mechanical energy, is a triumph of our understanding of classical thermodynamics over the last three centuries. In recent years, taking the heat engine concepts to microscopic scale, necessarily dominated by fluctuations, has led to the development of stochastic thermodynamics. We have shown that a micrometer-sized active Stirling engine can be realized by periodically cycling a colloidal particle in a time-varying harmonic optical potential across bacterial baths at different activities”.

“Our experiments bring out a message towards the fundamental insights into the functioning of engines operating out of equilibrium, concluded Prof. Sood.

Professor Ajay Sood has made outstanding contributions in both hard- and soft-condensed matter that are profound in terms of experimental discovery as well as theoretical understanding. He has developed some of the finest experimental techniques, applied them to discover many fascinating natural phenomena, and used them to design sensitive devices for practical applications. His publications, totalling close to four hundred so far, cover a wide range of topics. Several of his innovations have been patented. He has guided more than 30 Ph.D. theses.

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In 2015, Professor Sood was elected a fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) London. At present, he is the President of the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi and Secretary General, TWAS (2013-18). Earlier, he served as the President of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore during 2010-12. He is an elected Fellow of all the three National Science Academies in India and The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). Prof. Sood has been honoured with a large number of prestigious awards which include the S.S. Bhatnagar Award (1990), TWAS prize (2000), G.D. Birla Science Award (2000), Distinguished Alumnus Award of IISc (2016) and MRSI Distinguished Material Scientist of the Year (2016). At the national level, Prof. Sood has served as Member, Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India (2009-2014), Member, Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) (2012-2014), Chairman, Council, Raman Research Institute (2016-present), Member, Nano Mission Council of DST, Chairman, Nano Science Advisory Group of DST, Member, Board of Governors of the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR), and Member, Governing Body and the Society of the CSIR (2013-2016). In recognition of his scientific contributions and service to science in India, he has been honoured with “Padma Shri” by the Government of India in 2013.

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