SPR 2021: Science & Technology in News

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Also called General Science by the UPSC, Science & Technology is an important part of the syllabus for Prelims. During previous years, multiple questions have been asked on evolving and emerging technologies, new discoveries/findings, noble prize winning theories/technologies etc. Here, we are providing you with a simple and comprehensive compilation of the science and technologies that have been frequently in news over the past two years. You can also visit Science & Technology section in Samajho's Corner for more articles. 


Science & Technology in News



  • Reliance Jio has declared that they will launch 5G in the 2nd half of 2021.


  • 5G is the 5th generation of mobile networks, a significant evolution over today’s 4G LTE networks.
  • 5G uses radio waves or radio frequency (RF) energy to transmit and receive voice and data connecting our communities

Underlying Technology in 5G

  • 5G is based on OFDM (Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing), a method of modulating a digital signal across several different channels to reduce interference.
  • This could provide more 5G access to more people and things for a variety of different use cases.
  • 5G will bring wider bandwidths by expanding the usage of spectrum resources, from sub-3 GHz used in 4G to 100 GHz and beyond.
  • 5G can operate in both lower bands (e.g., sub-6 GHz) as well as mmWave (e.g., 24 GHz and up), which will bring extreme capacity, multi-Gbps throughput, and low latency.
  • 5G is designed to not only deliver faster, better mobile broadband services compared to 4G LTE, but can also expand into new service areas such as mission-critical communications and connecting the massive IoT-factory, the connected car, or the smart energy grid.


  • Greater Transmission Speed
  • Lower Latency: Latency refers to the time interval between an order being received and the given instruction being executed.
  • Increased Connectivity
  • Energy Efficiency Plans

Which countries have already launched 5G services?

  • Globally, 5G network deployment is rapidly moving from trials to early commercialization.
  • In April 2019, South Korea and the U.S. became the first countries to commercially launch 5G services.
  • China too has handed out commercial 5G licenses to its major carriers earlier than expected.
  • Other countries include Japan, Australia, United Kingdom, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates


Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology

Context: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) achieved a milestone in

What is Quantum Key Distribution (QKD)?

  • QKD is a secure communication method that uses cryptographic protocol involving components of quantum mechanics.
  • The technology enables two communicators to produce a random secret key known only to them and later it can be used to encrypt and decrypt messages.

What makes QKD unbreakable?

  • The security of QKD stems from the ability to detect any intrusion on the QKD transmission.
  • Because of the unique and fragile properties of photons, any third party who tries to read or copy the photons in any way will change the photons’ state.
  • The change will be detected by the endpoints, alerting them that the key has been tampered with and must be discarded.
  • A new key is then transmitted. Moreover, since the keys generated are truly random, they are protected from future hacking attempts.



  • Recently, the Union Environment Minister in a virtual event released the Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) based survey of forest areas in ten states.
  • It is a first of its kind and a unique experiment using LiDAR technology which will help augment water and fodder in jungle areas thereby reducing human-animal conflict.


  • It is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges & variable distances.
  • These light pulses- combined with other data recorded by the airborne system- generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.
  • A LiDAR instrument principally consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver.
  • LiDAR follows a simple principle- throw laser light at an object on the earth surface and calculate the time it takes to return to the LiDAR source.
  • Given the speed at which the light travels (approximately 186,000 miles per second), the process of measuring the exact distance through LiDAR appears to be incredibly fast.


  • Lidar is commonly used to make high-resolution maps, with applications in surveying, geodesy, geomatics, archaeology, geography, geology, geomorphology, seismology, forestry, atmospheric physics, laser guidance, airborne laser swath mapping (ALSM), and laser altimetry.
  • Aeroplanes and helicopters are the most commonly used platforms for acquiring LiDAR data over broad areas.
  • The aerial LiDAR survey technique, for the first time for any railway project in India, was adopted for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor owing to its high accuracy.
  • It is used for calculating phytoplankton fluorescence and biomass on the surface of the ocean.


  • Can’t perform well in fog, rain, snow and dusty weather.
  • Struggles to detect a glass wall or door, which is why smartphone manufacturers and self-driving cars makers use LiDAR along with secondary cameras and sensors.
  • It is not suitable to be used in dense forests and thick vegetations.

How is it similar to RADAR and SONAR?

  • LiDAR technology is quite similar to that of RADAR and SONAR that make use of the principle of reflection of waves for the detection of an object and for estimating the distance.
  • However, while RADAR is based on radio waves and SONAR is based on sounds, LIDAR is based on light beams i.e, Laser.



  • Union Education Ministry launched NanoSniffer, a Microsensor based Explosive Trace Detector (ETD) which is developed by NanoSniff Technologies, an IIT Bombay incubated startup.


  • Microsensor technology: Nanosniffer is the world’s first Explosive Trace Detector by using microsensor technology.
  • Indigenous: Nanosniffer is a 100% Made in India product in every term starting from research and development to its manufacturing.
  • Detected material: It detects all classes of military, conventional and homemade explosives.
  • Functioning: NanoSniffer gives visible & audible alerts with a sunlight-readable colour display.


  • Minute detection: NanoSniffer provides trace detection of a nano-gram quantity of explosives & delivers results in seconds.
  • Reduce import dependency: The newly developed device would help in reducing our dependency on imported explosive trace detector devices.
  • Rapid detection: This Home-grown Explosive trace detector device (ETD), NanoSniffer can detect explosives in less than 10 seconds.
  • Patent: The core technology of NanoSniffer is patented in the U.S. & Europe.
  • Research promotion: It will also encourage indigenous institutions, startups and medium-scale industries to research & develop products.
  • It’s a perfect example of the lab to market product.

Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS)


  • The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) has been accepted as a component of the World Wide Radio Navigation System (WWRNS) for operation in the Indian Ocean Region by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).


  • IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system developed by India.
  • It is designed to provide accurate position information service to assist in the navigation of ships in Indian Ocean waters.
  • It could replace the US-owned Global Positioning System (GPS) in the Indian Ocean extending up to approximately 1500 km from the Indian boundary.
  • IRNSS will provide two types of services, namely, Standard Positioning Service (SPS) which is provided to all the users, and Restricted Service (RS), which is an encrypted service provided only to the authorized users

Some applications of IRNSS are:

  • Terrestrial, Aerial, and Marine Navigation
  • Disaster Management
  • Vehicle tracking and fleet management
  • Integration with mobile phones
  • Precise Timing
  • Mapping and Geodetic data capture
  • Terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travellers
  • Visual and voice navigation for drivers

Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART)


  • A successful flight test of the Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART) system was conducted from Wheeler Island, off the coast of Odisha.


  • SMART is a missile-assisted release of lightweight anti-submarine torpedo system for antisubmarine warfare (ASW) operations far beyond the torpedo range.

SMART is a hybrid missile

  • While the long-range torpedo available in the world is around 50 km and rocket-assisted torpedoes can strike at a range of 150 km, the SMART will have a range of over 600 km.


  • Strengthens the country’s maritime strategic capabilities.
  • A major breakthrough for stand-off capability in anti-submarine warfare.
  • Project 28, approved in 2003, is a class of anti-submarine warship corvettes currently in service with the Indian Navy. It includes INS Kamorta, INS Kadmatt, INS Kiltan and INS Kavaratti.
  • Project 75 is a programme by the Indian Navy that entails building six Scorpene-Class attack submarines (Kalvari, Khanderi, Karanj, Vela, Vagir and Vagsheer).

S-400 Triumf Air Defense Systems


  • The US has yet again warned India that it could face sanctions over acquiring five Russian S-400 Triumf air defence systems.

What is S-400?

  • The S-400 is a mobile, surface-to-air missile defence system (SAM) designed by Russia.


  • It integrates the 91N6E multi-function panoramic radar with a 600 km range, autonomous detection, and targeting systems and launchers.
  • It can fire four missile types with strike ranges of between 400 km and 40 km to provide multilayered defence against incoming fixed-wing and rotary aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and ballistic missiles at altitudes of up to 30 km.
  • The S-400 is organized around the 30K6E administration system, with protection against jamming. 
  • It can simultaneously locate 72 targets and track another 160 alongside, compared with PAC-3s 36 and 125 respectively.

Novichok nerve agent


  • The German government says Russia’s opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.


  • The name Novichok (A-230) means “newcomer” in Russian and applies to a group of advanced nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • They were known as fourth-generation chemical weapons and were developed under a   Soviet program codenamed Foliant.
  • How is it used?
    • Novichok agents are dispersed as an ultra-fine powder rather than a gas or vapour.
    • They can be inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin.

Variants of Novichok

  • Some variants of Novichok are thought to be five to eight times more toxic than the VX nerve agent.
  • While some Novichok agents are liquids, others are thought to exist in solid form. This means they could be dispersed as an ultra-fine powder.
  • Some of the agents are also reported to be “binary weapons”, meaning the nerve agent is typically stored as two less toxic chemical ingredients that are easier to transport, handle and store.
  • When these are mixed, they react to produce the active toxic agent.

Is there an antidote?

  • All nerve agents have an antidote in atropine, but it needs to be administered as soon as possible.
  • A common problem is that it can take time to diagnose that a nerve agent has been used.

Who controls the world’s most toxic chemicals?

  • The work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is carried out as part of an international control regime that governs what is, or is not, permissible as far as very toxic chemicals are concerned.
  • This was established by the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), to which 192 countries are signed up members.
  • Only four countries are outside the CWC – North Korea, Israel, Egypt, and South Sudan. They are still bound by the treaty’s provisions, under international law.
  • Novichoks were added to the Chemical Weapons Convention’s list of controlled substances.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell


  • NTPC Ltd has invited Global Expression of Interest to provide 10 Hydrogen Fuel Cell-based electric buses and cars.


  • A fuel cell is a device that converts chemical potential energy (energy stored in molecular bonds) into electrical energy.
  • A PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) cell uses hydrogen gas (H2) and oxygen gas (O2) as fuel.
  • The products of the reaction in the cell are water, electricity, and heat.
  • Hydrogen + Oxygen -> Electricity + Water Vapour
  • This is a big improvement over internal combustion engines, coal-burning power plants, and nuclear power plants, all of which produce harmful by-products.
  • Since O2 is readily available in the atmosphere, we only need to supply the fuel cell with H2 which can come from an electrolysis process

What is Hydrogen?

  • Hydrogen is the simplest element. An atom of hydrogen consists of only one proton and one electron.
  • It’s also the most plentiful element in the universe. Despite its simplicity and abundance, hydrogen doesn’t occur naturally as a gas on Earth – it’s always combined with other elements.
  • Water, for example, is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen (H2O).
  • Hydrogen is high in energy, yet an engine that burns pure hydrogen produces almost no pollution.
  • NASA has used liquid hydrogen since the 1970s to propel the space shuttle and other rockets into orbit.
  • Hydrogen fuel cells power the shuttle’s electrical systems, producing a clean byproduct – pure water, which the crew drinks.

Application of Hydrogen as a Fuel

  • Potential of a clean hydrogen industry in reducing greenhouse gas emissions:
  • Hydrogen as a fuel has long been touted as an almost magical solution to air pollution crisis. The only by-product or emission that results from the usage of hydrogen fuel is water — making the fuel 100 per cent clean.
  • Hydrogen is considered an alternative fuel. It is due to its ability to power fuel cells in zero-emission electric vehicles, its potential for domestic production, and the fuel cell’s potential for high efficiency.
  • In fact, a fuel cell coupled with an electric motor is two to three times more efficient than an internal combustion engine running on gasoline.
  • Hydrogen can also serve as fuel for internal combustion engines.
  • The energy in 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of hydrogen gas contains about the same as the energy in 1 gallon (6.2 pounds, 2.8 kilograms) of gasoline.
  • It is readily available.
  • It doesn’t produce harmful emissions.
  • It is environmentally friendly and is a non-toxic substance.
  • It can be used as fuel in rockets.
  • Hydrogen is three times as powerful as gasoline and other fossil fuels. This means that it can accomplish more with less.
  • It is fuel-efficient. Compared to diesel or gas, it is much more fuel-efficient as it can produce more energy per pound of fuel.
  • It is renewable. It can be produced again and again, unlike other non-renewable sources of energy.



  • Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, and National Informatics Centre (NIC) jointly launched CollabCAD.


  • CollabCAD is a collaborative network, computer-enabled software system, providing a total engineering solution from 2D drafting & detailing to 3D product design.
  • This initiative aims to provide a great platform for students of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) across the country to create and modify 3D designs with a free fl ow of creativity and imagination.
  • This software would also enable students to create data across the network and concurrently access the same design data for storage and visualization.
  • ATLs established across India, provide tinkering spaces to children to hone their innovative ideas and creativity.
  • A customized version of CollabCAD for ATLs with features that are most relevant to school students to materialize their ideas and creativity into physical solutions has been developed to enable designing without constraints and, thus, allowing creativity and innovation to thrive.

What is 3D Printing?

  • 3D printing or additive manufacturing is the process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file.
  • The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process, an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created.
  • Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object.
  • 3D printing is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing which is cutting out / hollowing out a piece of metal or plastic with for instance a milling machine. 3D printing enables you to produce complex shapes using less material than traditional manufacturing methods.
  • Examples of 3D Printing include consumer products (eyewear, footwear, design, furniture), industrial products (manufacturing tools, prototypes, functional end-use parts), dental products, prosthetics, architectural scale models & maquettes, reconstructing fossils, etc.

Advantages/ Benefits of 3D printing:

  • Low cost: 3D printing is cheaper than the traditional method of manufacturing. The cost of producing or manufacturing products using 3d printing technology is equal for small-scale and mass manufacturing. For example, China was able to able to construct 10 one storey houses at less than $5000 per house
  • Less Time: Printing of the 3D object can be done directly, differing from the traditional manufacturing where different components had to be joined to form the final product.
  • Efficiency: Generating prototypes with 3D printers is much easier and faster with 3D printing technology.
  • Increased Productivity:  It enables quick production with a high number of prototypes or a small-scale version of the real object
  • Flexibility: Different materials can be used in the 3D models. This makes it very easy to create construction models or prototypes for a wide variety of projects within many industries.
  • Customization:  Every item can be customized to meet a user’s specific needs with out impacting the manufacturing costs.
  • Quality assurance: the technology builds robust products with superior functionality
  • Employment opportunities: The widespread use of 3d printing technology will increase the demand for engineers who are needed to design and build these printers and design blueprints of products.
  • Reduced wastage: AM process produces less waste in comparison with other traditional manufacturing techniques

2D Drafting:

  • 2D Drafting is the creation of accurate representations of objects for manufacturing and engineering needs.
  • It is used to fully and clearly define requirements for concepts or products to convey all the required information that will allow a manufacturer to produce that component.

Brain Fingerprinting Technology


  • The four accused in the Hathras case were said to undergo brain fingerprinting, the neuropsychological interrogation.

What is Brain Fingerprinting?

  • In brain fingerprinting, a headset with two electrodes is put on the head of the suspect. One electrode is placed on the forehead between the eyebrows while the other is put on the back of the head where the brain stores experiential memory.
  • The electrodes are connected to a laptop with brain fingerprinting software.
  • Details and photographs of the crime scene which are not in the public domain are projected on the screen in front of the suspect.
  • If the suspect is involved in the crime the moment he sees the details, his brain recognizes the picture and sends a specific, measurable brain response to the software.
  • In 1997, Indian neuroscientist Champadi Raman Mukundan developed a different technique called the Brain Electrical Oscillatory Signature (BEOS) Profiling.

What is the BEOSP test?

  • BEOS is an electroencephalogram (EEG) technique by which a suspect’s participation in a crime is detected by eliciting electrophysiological impulses.
  • The technique also referred to as a type of ‘brain fingerprinting, has been categorized as “noninvasive” and a legitimate neuro-psychological method of interrogation.

What differentiates a BEOSP test from a polygraph or a lie detector?

  • The BEOSP procedure does not involve a question-answer session with the accused and is rather a neuropsychological study of their brain.
  • In a polygraph test, the accused person’s physiological indicators are taken into account which includes blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration and skin conductivity.
  • However, experts say that while a person might be able to control their pulse rate and BP even in times of distress, a BEOSP test offers a much more credible result.

Application of the technique

  • Brain fingerprinting can help in addressing the following critical elements in the fight against terrorism:
  • Aid in determining who has participated in terrorist acts, directly or indirectly.
  • Aid in identifying trained terrorists with the potential to commit future terrorist acts, even if they are in a “sleeper” cell and have not been active for years.
  • Help to identify people who have knowledge or training in banking, finance or communications and who are associated with terrorist teams and acts.
  • Help to determine if an individual is in a leadership role within a terrorist organization.

Facial-Recognition Research


  • Although facial recognition software proves to be useful in certain scenarios, what happens if this technology falls into the wrong hands. Researchers must recognize that unethical facial recognition practice is fundamentally dangerous.

What is facial recognition, and how does it work?

  • Facial recognition is a biometric technology that uses distinguishable facial features to identify a person.
  • Facial recognition is a subcategory of biometrics. It’s made possible by advanced computing components, such as processors and memory, and Artificial Intelligence tools, such as machine learning.
  • Facial recognition is when a device uses a camera to identify a face for security or other purposes.
  • Today, it’s used in a variety of ways from allowing people to unlock their phones, go through security at the airport, purchase products at stores, etc.
  • Today, the world is inundated with data of all kinds, but the plethora of photo and video data available provides the dataset required to make facial recognition technology work.
  • Facial recognition systems analyze the visual data and millions of images and videos created by high-quality Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras, smartphones, social media, and other online activities.
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities in the software map distinguishable facial features mathematically, look for patterns in the visual data and compare new images and videos to other data stored in facial recognition databases to determine identity.

Applications of facial recognition:

  • Improves outcomes in the area of Criminal identification and verification.
  • Easy identification amongst crowds.
  • Boosts the police department’s crime investigation capabilities.
  • Helps civilian verification when needed. No one will be able to get away with a fake ID



  • A team of international scientists, including those from India, confirms detecting collisions between black holes and neutron stars by analyzing gravitational waves created in January 2020. The gravitational waves were detected by the Laser Interferometer GravitationalWave Observatory (LIGO) in the United States and by the Virgo detector in Italy.

What are Gravitational waves?

  • Gravitational waves are ripples in the space-time fabric.
  • These are created by extreme events, such as the collision of two black holes or two neutron stars.
  • They were first discovered in 2015 and since then observed in the collision between similar cosmic bodies.


  • Scientists detected the gravitational waves, earlier in 2020, as a result of the two mergers of celestial bodies.
  • Now, it is found that these waves were generated by the process of swallowing neutron stars by the black hole.
  • The first merger involved a black hole about nine times the mass of our sun and a neutron star about 1.9 times the mass of our sun.

Black Hole

  • A black hole is a region of space-time, where gravity is extremely strong that no object can escape from it.

Neutron Stars

  • Neutron stars are formed when a massive star runs out of fuel and collapses.
  • The location of the first merger in space remains uncertain, with the researchers estimating that it happened somewhere in an area that is 34,000 times the size of a full moon.
  • The second merger involved a 6-solar-mass black hole and a 1.5-solar-mass neutron star.
  • The second event, designated GW200115, originated from the merger of a black hole with a 1.5- solar mass neutron star that took place roughly 1 billion light-years from Earth.
  • It is a new set of binary that merged that was missing.
  • Earlier, it was thought that only the two similar types of bodies could merge such as a black hole and black hole or neutron star with a neutron star.
  • Significance of the discovery
  • It will be helpful to answer some of the significant questions such as how many of these systems exist, how often they merge, and why we have not yet seen examples in the Milky Way

Applications of LIGO

  • Previously, scientists have relied primarily on observations with electromagnetic radiation (visible light, x-rays, radio waves, microwaves, etc.) to learn about and understand objects and phenomena in the Universe.
  • But it is a completely different phenomenon, it carries information about cosmic objects and events that is not carried by usual electromagnetic radiation.
  • Detecting and analysing the information carried by gravitational waves will allow us to observe the Universe in a way never before possible.
  • It will open up a new window of study on the Universe, give us a deeper understanding of these cataclysmic events, and usher in cutting-edge research in physics, astronomy, and astrophysics.
  • More importantly, since gravitational waves interact very weakly with matter (unlike electromagnetic radiation), they travel through the Universe virtually unimpeded giving us a clear view of the gravitational wave Universe.
  • Measuring the gravitational-wave background will allow us to study populations of black holes at vast distances.
  • Hosting such a detector in India will improve the odds of detecting more such phenomena. The first detection of gravitational waves will be one of the highest-profile scientific discoveries of our time. Engaging the Indian scientific community in this quest will raise the visibility and appeal of experimental science in India.
  • The presence of a world-leading facility in India can be used to attract students and inspire them to pursue technical careers.
  • The physical measurements required for gravitational wave detection are arguably the most precise ever made, and they involve cutting edge technologies that have many non-military applications.
  • The LIGO Laboratory will provide the hardware for a complete LIGO interferometer, technical data on its design, installation and commissioning, training and assistance with installation and commissioning, and the requirements and designs for the necessary infrastructure

Hepatitis C virus


  • Americans Harvey J Alter and Charles M Rice, and British scientist Michael Houghton have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology for the discovery of the hepatitis C virus.

Their Contributions:

  • The trio’s work helped explain a major source of blood-borne hepatitis that couldn’t be explained by the hepatitis A and B viruses.
  • Thanks to their discovery, highly sensitive blood tests for the virus are now available and these have essentially eliminated post-transfusion hepatitis in many parts of the world, greatly improving global health.
  • Their discovery also allowed the rapid development of antiviral drugs directed at hepatitis C.

About Hepatitis C Virus:

  • It is a liver disease.
  • Caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV): the virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis.
  • Hepatitis C is a major cause of liver cancer.

How is it caused?

  • The hepatitis C virus is a bloodborne virus: the most common modes of infection are through exposure to small quantities of blood.


  • Antiviral medicines can cure more than 95% of persons with hepatitis C infection, thereby reducing the risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer, but access to diagnosis and treatment is low.
  • There is currently no effective vaccine against hepatitis C; however, research in this area is ongoing.

Types of Hepatitis Viruses:

  • There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E.
  • Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water.
  • Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of parenteral contact with infected body fluids.

CRISPR Technology


  • Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna recently won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their groundbreaking work on CRISPR technology.


  • The CRISPR (short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) technology for gene-editing was first developed in 2012.
  • It makes gene sequencing very easy, simple and extremely efficient providing nearly endless possibilities.
  • Editing, or modifying, gene sequences is not new and has been happening for several decades now, particularly in the field of agriculture, where several crops have been genetically modified to provide particular traits.
  • The technology replicates a natural defence mechanism in Streptococcus pyogenes that use a similar method to protect itself from virus attacks.
  • A DNA strand, when broken, has a natural tendency to repair itself but the auto-repair mechanism can lead to the re-growth of a problematic sequence.
  • Scientists intervene during this auto-repair process by supplying the desired sequence of genetic codes, which replaces the original sequence.

Application of Gene-Editing

  • Agriculture:
    • It is being tried out in agriculture primarily to increase plant yield, quality, disease resistance, herbicide resistance and domestication of wild species.
    • The huge potential to edit genes using this tool has been used to create a large number of crop varieties with improved agronomic performance; it has also brought sweeping changes to breeding technologies.
  • Genetic-Research:
    • CRISPR systems are already delivering superior genetic models for fundamental disease research, drug screening, and therapy development, rapid diagnostics, in-vivo editing and correction of heritable conditions.
    • Scientists are working on the theory that CRISPR might be used to boost the function of the body's T-cells so that the immune system is better at recognizing and killing cancer.
    • Disorders of the blood and immune system are other potential targets.
  • Medical Treatment:
    • CRISPR/Cas9 has also been seen as a promising way to create potential genome editing treatments for diseases such as HIV, cancer or sickle cell disease.
    • Such therapeutics could inactivate a disease-causing gene, or correct a genetic mutation.
    • Researchers in China edited human embryos to try to correct a faulty gene that caused an inherited blood disorder.
  • Therapeutic Cloning:
    • It is a process whereby embryonic cells are cloned to obtain biological organs for transplantation. 

Convalescent-Plasma Therapy


  • Convalescent-plasma Therapy was in the spotlight to help in the development of a new coronavirus drug derived from the blood plasma of people who have recovered from Covid-19.


  • In the early 20th century, convalescent plasma treatment was used during outbreaks of diseases such as measles, mumps and influenza, H1N1 influenza pandemic, and again in 2013 during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

How is blood plasma turned into an infection-fighting drug?

  • Patients who have recovered from the disease have permanent antibodies generated by the immune system floating in their blood plasma.
  • Plasma is harvested, tested for safety, and purified to isolate those protective antibodies.
  • When injected into a new patient, the “plasma-derived therapy” — also known as convalescent plasma — provides “passive immunity” until the patient’s immune system can generate its own antibodies.

What is Convalescent plasma?

  • Convalescent plasma refers to plasma obtained from an individual who has recuperated from an infection.
  • During the infectious period, the individual’s immune system would have mounted an attack on the foreign virus.
  • By the time the virus is vanquished, the body would have developed ammunition specifically to beat the virus, which will be a type of antibody.
  • these antibodies are suspended in the circulating blood and can be separated out from one of the components of blood – the plasma.

Cord Blood Banking


  • Recently, Poona Citizen Doctors’ forum dispels beliefs on commercial cord blood banking. It has warned to-be parents against falling prey to the emotional marketing tactics by stem cell banking companies.


  • Cord blood (short for umbilical cord blood) is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta post-delivery.
  • Cord blood has an abundance of stem cells and immune system cells, and the medical uses of these cells have been expanding at a rapid pace.

Uses of Cord Blood

  • The umbilical cord fluid is loaded with stem cells. They can treat cancer, blood diseases like anaemia, and some immune system disorders, which disrupt your body’s ability to defend itself.
  • As these cells help the body re-generate tissues and systems, cord blood is often referred to as regenerative medicine.
  • The fluid has 10 times more stem cells than those collected from bone marrow.
  • Stem cells from cord blood rarely carry any infectious diseases and are half as likely to be rejected as adult stem cells.

Deep Fakes 


  • AI-generated fake videos (or deep fakes) are becoming more common and convincing.
  • These videos have become one of the key weapons used in propaganda battles for quite some time now.

What is deep fake?

  • Deep Fakes are called so because they use deep learning technology, a branch of Artificial intelligence that applies neural network simulation to large data sets, to create fake videos.
  • Using this technology, a person’s head movements and expressions, etc are transferred onto some other person’s video in such a way that it becomes difficult to tell that it is a deep fake unless one closely observes the source media file.
  • Here the AI learns what a source face looks like and then transposes it onto another target to perform a face swap seamlessly.

How are deepfakes detected currently?

  • Currently, deep fakes are identified manually or by software, using some identifiers like:
  • Flicking, blur with bleeding colour, etc. in poorly produced deep fake videos
  • Unusual eye blinking pattern in deep fake videos
  • Using markers known as “soft biometrics” of a person i.e., his/her eyebrow movements, lip movements, etc.

What are the threats posed by deep fakes?

  • Can lead to a new type of Warfare
  • Can undermine Democracy
  • A high-quality deepfake can create false information.
  • Deep fakes can become an effective tool to induce polarization, amplify division in society, and suppress dissent.
  • Can be used for targeting women
  • Can cause damage to personal reputation
  • Can be used for financial and other frauds



  • Recently, Drones were used for the first time to drop explosive devices, triggering blasts inside the Air Force Station’s technical area in Jammu.


  • Drones are more formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems (UASes). Essentially, a drone is a flying robot that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems, working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS.

Applications of UAVs

  • Drones can be used for collecting breath samples from spouting whales for DNA analysis. In 2015, Researchers with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to assess the health of whales living in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary used a custom-built drone to collect blow samples.
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) – aircraft are used to spray pesticides to avoid the health problems of humans when they spray manually. UAVs can be used easily, where the equipment and labours are difficult to operate.
  • Drones can capture images of erupting craters that would be impossible to get otherwise. They are very practical to quickly obtain good quality terrain images and photogrammetric data in almost all volcanic environments.



  • A high-speed mass transport system from Virgin Hyperloop is more likely to launch in India first, ahead of countries like UAE. The company which holds a majority stake in Virgin Hyperloop said this during the Dubai Expo.

What is Hyperloop and how it works?

  • It is a system of magnetically levitating capsules (pods) that travels at high speeds through low-pressure steel tubes without any friction.
  • The principle of magnetic levitation (Maglev) is used to propel the pods inside the tubes and the air bearings are implemented to levitate the pods.
  • The pod would initially be launched with an electric motor before magnetic levitation takes place and the pod can glide at cruising speed in the low—pressure environment.
  • It can draw energy from any source including solar panels, windmills or even nuclear reactors.
  • It is still in trial stages in various countries and has not been implemented for practical use anywhere in the world yet.

What are the advantages of Hyperloop Technology?

  • Speed: Due to the sealed environment which causes little or no friction, hyperloop can reach a speed up to 1000 km/h which is 2 to 3 times faster than the bullet train and even commercial aircraft.
  • Environment-friendly: Compared to railways, it has a smaller civil engineering footprint, with no direct emissions or noise as it uses solar panels to generate electricity and maglev creates no noise.
  • Economical: Hyperloop needs relatively less ground to cover and it uses its own solar panels to generate electricity. Hyperloop’s capital cost per mile is 60% of high-speed rail and is also less expensive to operate. Due to this, the fare can be much cheaper compared to aircraft or bullet trains.
  • Frequent departures: Hyperloop departures could happen with a low frequency of every 20 seconds which is impossible in railways.
  • Less prone to human errors: because the system is fully automated and sealed.
  • Less land requirement: because steel tubes can be either built on a column or tunnelled underground.
  • Energy source: Hyperloop can draw energy from any source such as solar panels, windmills and even nuclear reactors.
  • Resistant to earthquakes: because the Hyperloop would be built on columns with two adjustable lateral dampers, so the tube would not be rigidly fixed to the ground. This would allow it to absorb the force of movement and not be shattered by it.

Internet of Things (IoT)


  • BSNL launches world's first satellite-based narrowband IoT network.


  • The internet of things (IoT) is a concept that describes the idea of everyday physical objects being connected to the internet. In the Internet of Things, the connected devices should be able to identify themselves to other devices.
  • Simply put, this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an ON and OFF switch to the Internet or to each other. This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of.
  • Or, if you want us to make it more simple – the Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept where Things can talk to other Things!

Applications of Internet of Things

Day to day lives

  • There can be many I0T examples in our day to day lives. For example, a person returning home after his office hours can call his coffee-maker to make the coffee ready as soon as he reaches his home. One can use IoT to water the plants of his/her garden as soon as the moisture level falls below a certain level. We can use IoT to convert a normal home to a smart home. It can be used in energy efficiency in homes and office places.


  • In manufacturing industries, IoT can be used to improve its performance, reduce human-induced errors and ultimately improve the overall quality of the manufactured products. It can also be used to develop good quality internet of things products etc. In the IT sector it can lead to improvements in its services, development of more sophisticated digital software and digital services etc. In totality, its effects would vary from industry to industry.


  • IoT can be used to collect information about rainfall, soil moisture, nutrient content of the soil, pest infestation etc. It can help in making informed decisions with app-based monitoring technologies to increase agricultural production and reduce associated risks of crop failures etc.
  • It can promote smart techniques in agriculture and help in making it remunerative with better price-discovery for farmers.


  • In healthcare, Medical practitioners and doctors can use IoT to develop remote health monitoring systems to remotely monitor the patient s health. Doctors can use IoT in the Smart Beds to detect when the patient is trying to get up etc. With the help of IoT specialized sensors can be developed for senior citizens. Wearable heart monitors can be helpful to track the heartbeats, blood pressure of patients. It can truly revolutionise telemedicine applications.


  • Corporate media houses can use IoT to detect consumer habits for behavioural targeting etc. This can help them to display consumer-specific advertisements etc. They can use Big Data and Data Mining for this purpose.


  • In Driverless cars, we can use IoT to improve intra-vehicular communication to reduce accidents and traffic jams etc. We can use it for electronic toll collections, Smart Parking, Smart traffic management etc.
  • IoT can be helpful in logistics and fleet management, safety assistance etc. As automation gains ground in automobile manufacturing and there are experiments with driverless cars, the IoT can immensely help in efficient management of these new practices.

Smart Cities

  • In Smart Cities, we can use IoT in solid waste management systems to improve the cleanliness of the city. We can use it in Smart energy management systems to develop Smart Power Grids which can improve energy efficiency and reduce transmission losses.
  • We can use IoT to monitor the air pollution levels in the cities and give warnings when it breaches prescribed safety levels.
  • We can also use IoT to develop Smart transportation systems to reduce congestion in the cities.

Government policies and services

  • The central government is going to bring a regulatory framework for the promotion and protection of the Internet of things (IoT).
  • Department of Telecommunication is going to bring Machine to Machine (M2M) roadmap standards for the industry as well as for individual users.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

What is the difference between virtual reality vs. augmented reality?

  • Virtual reality (VR) is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real-life environment or situation. It immerses the user by making them feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily by stimulating their vision and hearing.
  • VR is typically achieved by wearing a headset like Facebook’s Oculus equipped with the technology, and is used prominently in two different ways:
    • To create and enhance an imaginary reality for gaming, entertainment, and play (Such as video and computer games, or 3D movies, head-mounted display).
    • To enhance training for real-life environments by creating a simulation of reality where people can practise beforehand (Such as flight simulators for pilots).
  • Virtual reality is possible through a coding language known as VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) which can be used to create a series of images, and specify what types of interactions are possible for them.
  • Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that layers computer-generated enhancements atop an existing reality in order to make it more meaningful through the ability to interact with it. AR is developed into apps and used on mobile devices to blends digital components into the real world in such a way that they enhance one another, but can also be told apart easily.

Applications of VR


  • The education sector has adopted VR for teaching and learning situations. It has the potential to revolutionise learning, retention and content delivery exponentially. One can learn to play musical instruments, fix a computer, and draw a painting in the virtual world. VR-enabled classrooms allow real-time assessment of students with different capacities.
  • VR can change the way education is served in remote areas. A universal classroom can become a reality. Students can become a part of global education systems and instantly access the latest breakthroughs in knowledge, practice and technology.

Engineering and Architecture

  • Virtual reality plays a major role in simulating 3-dimensional models or designs of infrastructures, which can provide a real-life experience of the physical designs of infrastructures beforehand.
  • This is reducing considerable costs and expenses which can be incurred in a prototype. With the help of VR, cars, machines, aeroplanes etc. can be virtually designed and pretested for factors.


  • There are some incredibly exciting applications for AR in healthcare from allowing medical students to train in AR environments to telemedicine options that enable medical professionals to interact with patients.
  • In critical situations, augmented reality applications can deliver real-time information to the treatment area to support diagnosis, surgery and treatment plans. 


  • One of the fields where virtual reality has been adopted is in the military. It has been adopted by all three military services – air force, navy and army. VR is being put to different uses in the military. It is used to train soldiers in a simulated battlefield.
  • This gives soldiers the opportunity to learn without the risk of being killed or injured.


  • A lot of cinemas have adopted VR technology now. 

Cloud Seeding


  • Maharashtra: Making clouds rain with dry ice and silver iodide.


  • Cloud seeding is a kind of weather modification technology to create artificial rainfall. It works only when there are enough pre-existing clouds in the atmosphere. 
  • Drones are charged into the clouds and cause an electric shock due to which they clump together and cause rainfall.
  • Otherwise, in this process either silver iodide, potassium iodide or dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) is dumped onto the clouds causing rainfall. The seeds of chemicals can be delivered by plane or simply by spraying from the ground.
  • Cloud-seeding chemicals can be dispersed in clouds either by fly-through aircraft or by ground-based dispersion devices that use rockets or guns to fire canisters into the sky.

Applications of Cloud Seeding

  • Creation of Rain: Cloud seeding is the best way to consider improving rainfall quantity in case of inadequate rainfall. Arid areas usually have conditions that may be harsh in terms of food security and a conducive environment for living.
  • Cloud seeding can bring rain, which makes the natural environment flourish and becomes more habitable.
  • Boosting of the Economy: Agricultural production is important to the local economies of many regions around the world. Rain is important in achieving a proper harvest.
  • Weather Regulation: Cloud seeding provides an avenue for controlling prevailing weather conditions in different areas.
  • Geographically oriented: Cloud seeding is primarily done to create certain conditions in specific areas, also termed as microclimates. Places like airports, for instance, often use cloud seeding to create a stable condition for their runway. This is to ensure that planes are not restricted from taking off or landing.

Quantum Technology/Computing


  • Quantum Technology is based on the principles of Quantum mechanics that was developed in the early 20th century to describe nature at the scale of atoms and elementary particles.
  • The first phase of this revolutionary technology has provided the foundations of our understanding of the physical world, including the interaction of light and matter, and led to ubiquitous inventions such as lasers and semiconductor transistors.
  • The basic properties of quantum computing are superposition, entanglement, and interference.
  • Superposition:
    • It is the ability of a quantum system to be in multiple states simultaneously.
    • The example of superposition is the flip of a coin, which consistently lands as heads or tails—a very binary concept. However, when that coin is in mid-air, it is both heads and tails and until it lands, heads and tails simultaneously. Before measurement, the electron exists in quantum superposition.
  • Entanglement:
    • It means the two members of a pair (Qubits) exist in a single quantum state. Changing the state of one of the qubits will instantaneously change the state of the other one in a predictable way. This happens even if they are separated by very long distances.
    • Einstein called spooky ‘action at a distance.
  • Interference:
    • Quantum interference states that elementary particles(Qubits) can not only be in more than one place at any given time (through superposition), but that an individual particle, such as a photon (light particles) can cross its own trajectory and interfere with the direction of its path

Potential applications of quantum technology:

  • Industrial revolution 4.0: Quantum computing is an integral part of Industrial revolution 4.0. Success in it will help in Strategic initiatives aimed at leveraging other Industrial revolution 4.0 technologies like the Internet-of-Things, machine learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence across sectors will further help in laying the foundation of the Knowledge economy.
  • Financial Portfolio Optimisation: Finding the optimum mix for a basketful of investments based upon projected returns, risk assessments, and other factors is a daily task within the finance industry. By utilizing quantum technology to perform these calculations, one could achieve improvements in both the quality of the solutions as well as the time to develop them.
  • Logistics and Scheduling: Many common optimisations used in industry can be classified under logistics and scheduling. Quantum computing can make logistics more efficient. For example, airlines can figure out how to stage their airplanes for the best service at the lowest cost.
  • Pharmaceutical: Quantum computing could reduce the time frame of the discovery of new molecules and related processes to a few days. For instance, tracking protein behaviour or even modelling new proteins with the help of quantum computers could be made easier and faster.
  • Cyber Security: Various techniques to combat cyber security threats can be developed using some of the quantum machine learning approaches mentioned above to recognize the threats earlier and mitigate the damage that they may do.
  • Research: It can help in solving some of the fundamental questions in physics related to gravity, blackhole etc. Similarly, the quantum initiative could give a big boost to the Genome India project, a collaborative effort of 20 institutions to enable new efficiencies in life sciences, agriculture and medicine.
  • Disaster Management: Tsunamis, drought, earthquakes and floods may become more predictable with quantum applications. The collection of data regarding climate change can be streamlined in a better way through quantum technology.

Green Hydrogen


  • According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), hydrogen will make up 12% of the energy mix by 2050.


  • Hydrogen is an appealing fuel.
  • A kilogram of hydrogen has about three times as much energy as a comparable
  • amount of diesel or gasoline.
  • Hydrogen is the universe's most abundant element, but here on Earth it doesn't appear pure in nature and requires energy to separate.
  • The most common technique is to extract hydrogen from water, which is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen (hence H2O).
  • If it can be made cleanly and cheaply, it could be the key to cleaning up an array of tricky vital sectors.
  • Today, most manufactured hydrogen is made by combining natural gas with steam at high temperatures.
  • It’s an energy-intensive process that emits considerable amounts of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas driving climate change.
  • But a small and growing percentage is made by splitting water into its constituent elements by zapping it with electricity, a process known as electrolysis.
  • This also takes a lot of energy, but if the electricity comes from a renewable source like wind or solar power, it produces minimal harmful emissions.

Types of Hydrogen

  • Where the hydrogen comes from is important. 
  • Hydrogen, in itself, is a clean fuel.
  • Manufacturing hydrogen fuel, however, is energy-intensive and has carbon byproducts.
  • What is now called brown hydrogen is created through coal gasification.
  • At the moment, it’s mainly produced industrially from natural gas, which generates significant carbon emissions.
  • That type is known as “grey” hydrogen.
  • A cleaner version is “blue” hydrogen, for which the carbon emissions are captured and stored, or reused.
  • The cleanest one of all is “green” hydrogen, which is generated by renewable energy sources without producing carbon emissions in the first place.

How is it produced?

  • With electrolysis, all you need to produce large amounts of hydrogen is water, a big electrolyzer and plentiful supplies of electricity.
  • If the electricity comes from renewable sources such as wind, solar or hydro, then the hydrogen is effectively green; the only carbon emissions are from those embodied in the generation infrastructure.
  • The challenge right now is that big electrolyzers are in short supply, and plentiful supplies of renewable electricity still come at a significant price.
  • Compared to more established production processes, electrolysis is very expensive, so the market for electrolyzers has been small.

Expensive but getting cheaper

  • Conventional hydrogen and blue hydrogen cost about $2 per kilogram (though the price varies depending on where it's produced), while green hydrogen is around twice as much.
  • That price, however, is falling steeply with renewable energy prices and cheaper costs to make equipment used for electrolysis, called electrolysers.


  • Oil refining
  • Methanol production
  • Ammonia production 
  • Steel production
  • Conventional hydrogen and blue hydrogen cost about $2 per kilogram (though the price varies depending on where it's produced), while green hydrogen is around twice as much.
  • That price, however, is falling steeply with renewable energy prices and cheaper costs to make equipment used for electrolysis, called electrolysers.

Potential Uses

  • Fuel-cell hydrogen electric cars and trucks.
  • Container ships powered by liquid ammonia made from hydrogen “green steel” refineries burning hydrogen as a heat source rather than coal.
  • Hydrogen-powered electricity turbines that can generate electricity at times of peak demand to help firm the electricity grid as a substitute for natural gas for cooking and heating in homes.



  • The DNA molecules contain instructions a living entity requires to grow, develop and reproduce. These instructions are present inside each cell and are inherited from the parents to their offspring.
  • It is made up of nucleotides that contain a nitrogenous group, a phosphate group, and a sugar group. The order of the nitrogenous bases – thymine(T), guanine(G), cytosine(C), and adenine(A), is crucial in determining the genetic code.
  • Genes are formed by the order of the nitrogenous bases present in the DNA which is crucial for protein synthesis. RNA is another nucleic acid that translates genetic information into proteins from DNA.
  • The nucleotides are linked together for the formation of two long strands which spiral to produce a structure known as the double-helix which resembles that of a ladder wherein the sugar and phosphate molecules form the sides while the rungs are formed by the bases.
  • The bases located on one strand pair up with the bases on the other strand, as in – guanine pairs with cytosine and adenine pairs with thymine.
  • Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a nucleic acid that is directly involved in protein synthesis. Ribonucleic acid is an important nucleotide with long chains of nucleic acid present in all living cells. Its main role is to act as a messenger conveying instructions from DNA for controlling the proteins synthesis.
  • RNA contains the sugar ribose, phosphates, and nitrogenous bases adenine (A), guanine (G),  cytosine (C),  and uracil (U). DNA and RNA share the nitrogenous bases A, G, and C. Thymine is usually only present in DNA and uracil is usually only present in RNA.

Types Of RNA

  • Only some of the genes in cells are expressed in RNA. The following are the types of RNA wherein each type is encoded by its own type of gene:
  • tRNA– The transfer RNA or the tRNA carries amino acids to ribosomes while translation
  • mRNA – The messenger RNA or the mRNA encodes amino acid sequences of a polypeptide
  • rRNA – The ribosomal RNA or the rRNA produces ribosomes with the ribosomal proteins that are organelles responsible for the translation of the mRNA.
  • snRNA – The small nuclear RNA forms the complexes along with proteins that are utilized in RNA processing in the eukaryotes.

Muon g–2 experiment


  • Newly published results of an international experiment hint at the possibility of new physics governing the laws of nature.


  • The experiment, called Muon g–2 (g minus two), was conducted at the US Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab).
  • It measured a quantity relating to the muon.
  • This followed up a previous experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory, under the US Department of Energy.
  • Concluded in 2001, the Brookhaven experiment came up with results that did not identically match predictions by the Standard Model.
  • The Muon g–2 experiment measured this quantity with greater accuracy.
  • It sought to find out whether the discrepancy would persist, or whether the new results would be closer to predictions.
  • As it turned out, there was a discrepancy again, although smaller.

What is the recent finding?

  • The experiment studied a subatomic particle called the muon.
  • The results of the experiment do not match the predictions of the Standard Model.
  • The Standard Model is that on which all particle physics is based.
  • The results instead reconfirm a discrepancy that had been detected in an experiment 20 years previously

Significance of the Findings:

  • The results, while diverging from the Standard Model prediction, strongly agree with the Brookhaven results.
  • The results from Brookhaven, and now Fermilab, hint at the existence of unknown interactions between the muon and the magnetic field.
  • These are interactions that could possibly involve new particles or forces.
  • To claim a discovery, scientists require results that diverge from the Standard Model by 5 standard deviations.
  • The combined results from Fermilab and Brookhaven diverge by 4.2 standard deviations.
  • While this may not be enough, it is very unlikely to be a fluke.
  • In all, this is strong evidence that the muon is sensitive to something that is not in our best theory.
  • The result thus suggests that there are forms of matter and energy vital to the nature and evolution of the cosmos that are not yet known to science.
  • In other words, the physics now known could alone not explain the results measured.



  • Graphene, a Nobel Prize-awarded material with promising applications for greener energy and nanomedicine, has been the topic of much disinformation by coronavirus anti-vaxxers claiming it can be used to “magnetize” and “control” people.


  • Often referred to as a “miracle material,” graphene is one of the world's strongest materials, and one of the lightest.
  • A form of carbon just one atom thick—many times thinner than a human hair—graphene is transparent but stronger than steel.


  • Biological Engineering – Its high electrical conductivity, thinness and strength, it would make a good candidate for the development of fast and efficient bioelectric sensory devices
  • Optical Electronics – Graphene is an almost completely transparent material and is able to optically transmit up to 97.7% of light. It is also highly conductive, so it would work very well in optoelectronic applications such as LCD touchscreens for smartphones, tablet and desktop computers and televisions.
  • Ultrafiltration – It allows water to pass through it, it is almost completely impervious to liquids and gases (even relatively small helium molecules). This means that graphene could be used as an ultrafiltration medium to act as a barrier between two substances.
  • Composite Materials – Graphene is strong, stiff and very light. Currently, aerospace engineers are incorporating carbon fibre into the production of aircraft as it is also very strong and light. However, graphene is much stronger whilst being also much lighter.
  • Photovoltaic cells – Offering very low levels of light absorption (at around 2.7% of white light) whilst also offering high electron mobility means that graphene can be used as an alternative to silicon or ITO in the manufacture of photovoltaic cells
  • Energy Storage – Graphene-based micro-supercapacitors will likely be developed for use in low energy applications such as smartphones and portable computing devices and could potentially be commercially available within the next 5-10 years.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning


  • The term was coined in 1956 by John McCarthy.
  • AI is a way of making a computer, a computer-controlled robot, or software performing humanlike tasks.
  • It refers to the ability of machines to perform cognitive tasks like thinking, perceiving, learning, problem-solving and decision making. It describes the action of machines accomplishing tasks that have historically required human intelligence. It includes technologies like machine learning, pattern recognition, big data, neural networks, self algorithms etc.
  • AI involves complex things such as feeding a particular data into the machine and making it react as per the different situations. It is basically about creating self-learning patterns where the machine can give answers to the never answered questions like a human would ever do.
  • There are two subsets under the umbrella term AI: Machine learning and Deep learning.

Machine learning:

  • Machine Learning involves the use of algorithms to parse data and learn from it.
  • It provides systems with the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed.
  • This enables making a determination or prediction.

Significance of AI for India

  • India can become an AI powerhouse.
  • A study by Google Neural Network correctly identified cancerous skin lesions more often than Dermatologists did. India's shortage of specialist doctors in rural areas can benefit.
  • Compete with the aspirations of USA, China and Japan.
  • If used in Agri, it will bring revolution in Farming practices.
  • Use in Renewable Energy. Eg. Delhi based firm Climate Connect predicts the amount that a solar plant will generate every 15 mins. It will help in completing the Solar target of 100 GW by 2022.
  • ANYA: Chatbot for patient queries. Information is medically verified. 1st of its kind. For disease awareness.
  • Social media sites were told to filter content using AI.

Applications in 5 core Areas

  • Healthcare
  • Agriculture
  • Education
  • Smart Cities and Infrastructure
  • Smart Mobility and Transportation

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