Invited Seminar at CES on 28 March 2023 at 3:00 pm titled "Evolutionary Photonics or Why Blue Is The Coolest Color" by Dr. Vinod Kumar Saranathan from Associate Professor and Discipline Coordinator for Biological Sciences Division of Science, School of

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Evolutionary Photonics or Why Blue Is The Coolest Color
Dr. Vinod Kumar Saranathan, Associate Professor and Discipline Coordinator for Biological Sciences Division of Science, School of Interwoven Arts and Sciences (SIAS) Krea University, Sricity, Andhra Pradesh, India
Date & Time: 
28 Mar 2023 - 3:00pm
Event Type: 
Invited Seminar
CES Seminar Hall, 3rd Floor, Biological Sciences Building

Colors in organisms can be produced either chemically by pigments or physically by the interference of light scattered from biophotonic nanostructures or sometimes in combination. Fade-proof, vivid, saturated structural colors that have evolved over millions of years of optimization are an ideal source to look for natural solutions to our current technological challenges in optics, sensing, etc. and can provide facile biomimetic routes for eco-friendly materials synthesis for functional applications. However, given that the underlying nanostructures are overwhelmingly diverse in form and function, their characterization has lagged for over a century. I have pioneered the use of synchrotron Small Angle X-ray Scattering as a high throughput technique to structurally and optically characterize biophotonic nanostructures from hundreds of species, in a comparative framework. This has led to the understanding that all these diverse, mesoscale nanostructures share a unifying theme – they appear to be self-assembled within cells by bottom-up and directed processes.  I led the discovery of the first biological single gyroid photonic crystals in the iridescent green wing scales of certain butterflies that beautifully pre-empt our current engineering approaches and recently, within some bird feathers. The latter appears to be the first directly self-assembled single gyroid known to science and at the hard to achieve optical length scales. In this talk, I will broadly summarize our current state of knowledge about the structure, function, development and evolution of organismal structural colors in birds and insects, as well as discuss some future directions on how understanding the intracellular development of biophotonic nanostructures can lead to novel, eco-friendly routes to mesoscale synthesis for advanced applications from sensors, photonics, energy harvesting to catalysis.

Speaker Bio: 
Dr. Vinod Saranathan is Associate Professor and Discipline Coordinator for Biological Sciences at the Division of Science, within the School of Interwoven Arts and Sciences (SIAS) at Krea University, an elite 4-year liberal arts university in Andhra Pradesh, where he studies the physical and biological basis of structural color-producing biophotonic nanostructures in birds and insects, towards their biomimetic synthesis for technological applications. He has published in leading international scientific journals including PNAS, Advanced Materials, Nano Letters, Cell Reports, Proceedings of the Royal Society B and his research has been featured in prominent international and national print (Quanta Magazine, New York Times, LA Times, Atlantic Monthly, Hindu Business Line, Times of India, etc.) and broadcast news media (BBC, CBC, NPR, Channel News Asia, etc.). Vinod received a bachelor’s degree in Physics with a minor in Philosophy cum laude from Ohio Wesleyan University. Funded by a Dillon and Mary Ripley Graduate Fellowship, he earned a Master’s in 2007 and a PhD in 2011 from Yale University, in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, where he studied structural color production in birds. Subsequently, Vinod was a Royal Society Newton Fellow at the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford. While at Oxford, he was also elected to an Edward P. Abraham Cephalosporin Junior Research Fellowship at Linacre College. Prior to joining Krea University, Vinod was faculty at Yale-NUS College, and the Department of Biological Sciences at NUS, Singapore, and an adjunct PI at the NUS Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative (NUSNNI).