Engineering and Computer Science, 2015

Umesh Waghmare

Professor, Theoretical Sciences Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru


Infographic: Using computing wizardry to predict the behavior of materials


Prof. Umesh Waghmare is currently Professor in the Theoretical Sciences Unit of Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore. He completed his B.Tech in Engineering Physics from IIT-Bombay in 1990 and obtained his doctorate in Applied Physics in 1996 from Yale University, New Haven, USA. He did his postdoctoral research in Harvard University (1996-2000). He joined the faculty of JNCASR in 2000, and became a Full Professor in 2009. His national honors and awards include fellowship of the three science academies of India, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, B M Birla Science Prize, J. C. Bose National Fellowship, and the Materials Society of India Medal, among others.

Scope and impact of work

Prof. Waghmare has provided a much needed bridging between the microscopic details of a material and its properties at various length and time scales by using systematic hierarchical modeling strategies, especially for topological insulators, smart multi-functional materials and nano-materials.

He has been able to complement experimental studies of materials by providing unbiased information at the length-scales smaller than a few nanometers, which is hard to access experimentally, and design new materials from first-principles.

The range of materials that he has worked on include topological insulators, which are characterized by nontrivial topological invariants of its bulk electronic states; ferroelectrics, which are a class of smart materials that are used in micro and nano electromechanical systems; multiferroic materials, which exhibit more than one ferroic order parameter and are useful in multifunctional devices; catalytic oxides, which play an important role in oxidation of harmful gases; dilute magnetic semi-conductors which are useful in spintronic devices and circuits; and also 2- dimensional materials like graphene, and MoS2, which have applications in electronic devices.

Waghmare is a rare theorist, who has demonstrated how state of the art first-principles calculations can be used on a wide range of materials to develop material-specific models through a systematic approach that starts at electronic scales, and used quantum or statistical mechanical analysis of these models to predict material behavior as a function of temperature and other external fields, while also assessing their potential for use in engineered devices.

Short Citation

The Infosys Prize in Engineering and Computer Science is awarded to Prof. Umesh Waghmare for his innovative use of first- principles theories and modeling in insightful investigations of microscopic mechanisms responsible for specific properties of specific materials such as topological insulators, ferroelectrics, multiferroics and 2-dimensional materials like graphene. His work has high potential impact in technological applications of these industrially important materials.

Citation by the Jury

Prof. Waghmare has made original contributions to fundamental physics of materials besides providing deep insights into the electronic and magnetic behavior of novel materials.

In topological insulators, he resolved a puzzling observation of an unusual Raman anomaly at a pressure induced transition in r-Sb2Se3, showing that the observed transition is from a band-insulator to a topological insulating state, with the time-scales of electrons and phonons becoming comparable at the transition.

In ferroelectrics, Waghmare showed that spatial fluctuations in the order parameter are crucial to the first-order character of the ferroelectric transition. He solved the long-standing question of giant dielectric response of a ferroelectric even away from the ferroelectric transition.

In multiferroics, Waghmare showed how coupling of phonons with spin and electric field leads to magneto-electric and magneto- capacitive effects.

Jury Quote – Pradeep K. Khosla

"I am impressed with the way Waghmare has seamlessly transcended the boundaries of physics, chemistry and engineering of materials, and has impacted our understanding of the microscopic mechanisms responsible for the material behavior of engineering materials of importance to industry".