Research scholar Saurabh Nene successfully defended his PhD thesis on May 27, 2016, becoming the IITB-Monash Research Academy's 11th student this year, and 39th overall, to do so.
The joy was doubled because he celebrated his 28th birthday on the same day!
Saurabh had been working at the IITB-Monash Research Academy for just under four years on a project titled, 'Development of ultralight and ultrafine grained Mg-Li-Ca alloy by compositional optimization and severe plastic deformation' under the supervision of Prof Bhagwati Prasad Kashyap, Prof Nithyanand Prabhu, and Prof Yuri Estrin.
Put simply, his objective was to create an ultralight alloy using Magnesium as its base material, which can be made so strong and formable that it could in some cases even replace heavy steels in industry applications. This alloy has the potential to be a game-changer in the medical implant and auto industries.
Elaborating on his journey from Saurabh to Dr Saurabh, he said, "We chose two alloying elements—Lithium (Li) and Calcium (Ca)—which when added to Magnesium, create a new ternary alloy, designated as Mg-4Li-1Ca (LX41) alloy. Lithium, being the lightest among metals (0.5 g/cc), reduces the density of the alloy and also helps improve the room temperature formability. Calcium, on the other hand, being an inherent part of the human bone, enhances biocompatibility and helps in effective bio-degradation. We have achieved a density as low as 1.55 g/cc for Mg-4Li-1Ca (LX41), which is comparable with even commercial polymers."
Saurabh's supervisors are understandably delighted.
Prof Bhagwati Prasad Kashyap from IIT Bombay said, "Saurabh's dedication to his thesis work kept him ahead of time in meeting our expectation of developing a new light alloy of superior properties in many respects. He was a smart and bright student who delivered high quality work. Well done, Saurabh. Keep it up!"
Added Prof Nithyanand Prabhu, also from IIT Bombay, "Saurabh is a bright and intelligent student. The quality of his thesis work is exceptional. Our best wishes to him."
Equally generous in his praise, Prof Yuri Estrin from Monash University added, "Saurabh is a talented young researcher who strikes me as a person with a great energy and elan, ready to move into new areas and learn new things. I see him as a successful academic in the future and shall watch with interest the next steps in his career."
So what next for Dr Saurabh Nene?
"I've always wanted to pursue a career in academics and am hoping to join one of the IITs soon. It feels overwhelming to read the honorific 'Dr' against my name. I owe a huge thanks to my supervisors, my parents and in-laws, and my dear wife Manasi for having helped me reach this milestone. The IITB-Monash Research Academy is an excellent platform to explore research across two different cultures."