Distinguished Professor Chennupati Jagadish AC. Photo by Stuart Hay.

Distinguished Professor Chennupati Jagadish AC. Photo by Stuart Hay.

A big name in a tiny world

He's known across ANU and his sector by one name: Jagadish. KATE PRESTT uncovers the story behind the nanotechnology leader CHENNUPATI JAGADISH AC.

He works in a world that is so small you can't see it with the naked eye.

But nanotechnology pioneer and inventor Distinguished Professor Chennupati Jagadish AC has played a big role in a field that many take for granted in day to day life when using a smart phone or computer.

Jagadish is a big name in a microscopic world. His expertise is in the field of nanofabrication, or the engineering of tiny machines at the atomic and molecular scale.

A nanometre is a billionth of a metre.

The structures that Jagadish and his team work on are 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

In his office the shelves are overflowing with books and paper and the table strewn with magazines and papers. Bald and bearded, he jokes he may not be the most qualified to speak on hair.

Jagadish's research at the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering is helping provide high performance next generation optical devices, which have huge potential in the field of communications, data storage and solar cells.

These machines are smaller, faster and consume less power than conventional electronics.

Born into a farming family, Jagadish grew up in a small village in the southern part of India.

His father was a primary school teacher and was the only person in his family to have completed high school.

He studied by kerosene lamp and found it difficult to get to high school.

"The nearest school was three kilometres away from my village and it wasn't possible to travel the six kilometres a day on foot because my health wasn't that great," he recalls.

Not going to high school was not an option. His father instilled in every child he knew the importance of education in leading to an improved quality of life.