A group of scientists from the North East Institute of Science and Technology, Jorhat, Assam, have created a database of 6,959 medicinal plants found across India.

The database sources information under four sections — traditional knowledge, geographical indications, phytochemicals, and chemoinformatics. The traditional knowledge section contains the plant taxonomy, including its vernacular names. A total of 27,440 unique phytochemicals associated with these plants were curated.

However, due to non-availability of general information like IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) names and InChI (International Chemical Identifier) key, only 22,314 phytochemicals have been reported in the database, say Kikrusenuo Kiewhuo, et al, in a paper published in the Computational Biology and Chemistry magazine.

The antiviral potency of the phytochemicals was predicted using two machine learning models — Random Forest and XGBoost. The database can be accessed at https://neist.res.in/osadhi/.

Drone cleans solar panels

The next time you visit a solar farm, don’t be surprised to see a drone cleaning the panels. Garuda Aerospace’s Surya automated drone cleans solar panels using only 100 ml of water, as compared to traditional manual methods that require 4 litres or more.

The Surya drone can fly at 10 metres per second and is powered by a 16,000 mah battery. The brush and wiper fixed to the drone are 1 metre wide each. The 6-bar external pressure pump has a flat fan nozzle. The control distance is 1,000 metres. The operations require less equipment maintenance downtime as zero set-ups are required and this, in turn, lowers maintenance labour and insurance costs.

Garuda is working on drones of multiple sizes, including some very large ones, to suit different requirements in the domestic and international markets.

Garuda Aerospace says it provides 99.5 per cent richness and accuracy in data collection on the asset’s condition, easier data structuring and information sharing, and maintenance inspection tasks including visual, thermal, and UT.

Steel roof-turned-solar cell

An organic solar cell made up of an organic polymer and a PCBM (organic semiconductor) developed on steel substrates can potentially convert a steel roof into an energy-producing device. The potential of third-generation solar cell technologies lies in their integration with flexible and conformal surfaces. However, this requires developing new transparent conducting top electrodes as alternatives to indium tin oxide, the optoelectronic material currently in use that has limitations due to its brittleness and whose optoelectronic efficiency varies with temperature.

Researchers at IIT-Kanpur have developed organic solar cell devices consisting of a blend of organic polymer PTB7 as a donor and PCBM as a receiver. The devices were fabricated on opaque steel substrates with a molybdenum trioxide-gold-molybdenum trioxide top electrode. The research at the laboratory of Prof Ashish Garg in IIT-Kanpur demonstrated the integration of the multilayered electrodes with the organic solar cells. It was published in the journal Energy Technology.

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