Ramakrishna Podila

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Ramakrishna Podila
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Alma mater
  • Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School
  • Indian Institute of Technology at Roorkee
  • Clemson University
OccupationPhysicist and nanomaterials researcher

Ramakrishna Podila is an Indian-born American physicist and nanomaterials researcher. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Clemson University and is the director of the Clemson Nano-bio lab[1]. He is known for his interdisciplinary research at the interface of physics, biology, and nanoscience. His lab integrates the principles of condensed matter physics, optical spectroscopy, and physiological chemistry to understand physics at the nanoscale and nano-bio interfaces. His work led to many new discoveries at the nanoscale such as: 1) time-reversal symmetry breaking with non-linear optical diodes [2][3], 2) a novel Nanogenerator|"wireless" tribo-electric generator that is capable of converting waste mechanical energy into electricity and transmit it wirelessly for storage[4], 3) alleviating quantum capacitance effects in graphene[5], 4) smartphone based rapid inexpensive biosensors for resource-limited settings[6][7], and 4) elucidating the origin of nano-toxicity from a fundamental quantum electronic energy levels standpoint. He is a highly cited researcher with >70 peer-reviewed articles (H-index: 41) in high-impact journals including Nature, Advanced Materials, Advanced Functional Materials, Journal of American Chemical Society, Nano Letters etc[8]. His work on tribo-electric nanogenerators and batteries led to two US patents[9][10].


Podila's interest in physics started early during high school education at Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School. which led him to purse his B.Sc (Hons) and M.Sc. in physics from the IIT Roorkee|Indian Institute of Technology at Roorkee. At IIT Roorkee, he set up an inexpensive scalable manufacturing process for producing carbon nanotubes. Later, Podila moved to the the United States to pursue higher degrees and obtained a PhD in physics in 2011 from Clemson University. He was awarded the outstanding graduate student fellowship for his college in 2010. His PhD thesis (under Apparao M Rao|Prof. Apparao Rao) focused on using "defects" in materials to control electronic and optical properties of materials. Subsequently, Podila worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the Brody school of medicine to research in fields including nanotoxicity, nanomedicine, nanoparticles for bioimaging, and nano-biosensors.

Professional life and accomplishments

Podila's research made many strides in fundamental understanding and applications of nanomaterials in energy, health, and photonics. Podila's research accomplishments may be categorized into three broad themes: 1) Energy conversion and storage: Podila's group has been endeavoring to develop highly efficient triboelectric nanogenerators (Nanogenerator|TENGs) for converting waste mechanical energy into useful electric power; in addition, his group focuses on engineering defects and dopants in nanomaterials to achieve batteries (Li-ion, Li-sulfur, and Al-ion) and supercapacitors (based on nanocarbons and their hybrids with electrochemically active polymers) with high-energy and high-power densities. His work in this area led to many discoveries such as alleviation of quantum capacitance in graphene, wireless tribo-electric nanogenerators[11], inexpensive TENGs[12], and novel silicon electrodes for Li-ion batteries[13][14] among other things. Through their research at the nanoscale, Podila's group has demonstrated the use of defects (including interfaces) for achieving novel functionalities. More importantly, his group successfully translated their research into scalable devices[15]. 2) Nanotoxicity and Nanomedicine: Podila's group is presently identifying mechanisms of nanotoxicity with an emphasis on nanoparticle-protein interactions and their influence on physiological responses to ultimately develop benign nanoparticles for medical applications. Podila's collaborative work previously developed an atom-thick coating for preventing blood clots on stents, use carbon nanotubes as drug delivery vehicles for cancer[16] etc. Recently, Podila's work (in collaboration with J. M. Brown group at UC Denver) showed how atomic defects in materials could elicit varying physiological responses by linking nanomaterials, quantum mechanics, and toxicity studies. His work also unraveled the fundamental mechanisms by which plaque formation in many diseases such as diabetes etc can be stopped using nanomaterials[17]. 3) Biosensing and imaging: Podila's group developed novel surface plasmon coupled emission platforms (some of this work done in collaboration with Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning) with high sensitivity and specificity for diagnosing low abundance biomarkers. Most importantly, this work led to cheap and inexpensive smartphone sensors for rapidly detecting TB without the need to wait for bacterial cultures[18][19]. His group invented a new printer paper based analyte-induced disruption assay that is useful for rapidly detecting antibodies, cancer markers etc[20]. Podila's research has been highlighted by many news outlets including Discover, The Hindu etc. His work has been funded through NIH, NSF, NASA etc.

Honors, awards, and outreach

Podila became a certified fellow of the Institute for Advanced Physics in 2020. He was also awarded the prestigious Roaring '10 Clemson Alumni award in 2019[21]. Podila's research received many awards and grants from NSF, NIH, and NASA[22]. Podila is actively involved in education and outreach through science workshops for K-12[23]. Podila also taught physics for Buddhists monks at Sera monastery in Karnataka, India for three summers during 2017-19[24]. During this, Podila taught advanced topics such as mechanics, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics to Buddhist monks with no formal education in mathematics.

Selected Publications

Podila, R., Queen, W., Nath, A., Arantes, J. T., Schoenhalz, A. L., Fazzio, A., ... & Rao, A. M. (2010). Origin of FM ordering in pristine micro-and nanostructured ZnO. Nano letters, 10(4), 1383-1386.

Podila, R., Moore, T., Alexis, F., & Rao, A. M. (2013). Graphene coatings for enhanced hemo-compatibility of nitinol stents. RSC advances, 3(6), 1660-1665.

Podila, R., Brown, J. M., Kahru, A., & Rao, A. M. (2014). Illuminating nano-bio interactions: A spectroscopic perspective. Mrs Bulletin, 39(11), 990-995.

Zhu, J., Childress, A. S., Karakaya, M., Dandeliya, S., Srivastava, A., Lin, Y., ... & Podila, R. (2016). Defect‐engineered graphene for high‐energy‐and high‐power‐density supercapacitor devices. Advanced Materials, 28(33), 7185-7192.

Wei, P. C., Bhattacharya, S., He, J., Neeleshwar, S., Podila, R., Chen, Y. Y., & Rao, A. M. (2016). The intrinsic thermal conductivity of SnSe. Nature, 539(7627), E1-E2.

Dong, Y., Chertopalov, S., Maleski, K., Anasori, B., Hu, L., Bhattacharya, S., ... & Podila, R. (2018). Saturable absorption in 2D Ti3C2 MXene thin films for passive photonic diodes. Advanced Materials, 30(10), 1705714.

Dong, Y., Mallineni, S. S. K., Maleski, K., Behlow, H., Mochalin, V. N., Rao, A. M., ... & Podila, R. (2018). Metallic MXenes: A new family of materials for flexible triboelectric nanogenerators. Nano Energy, 44, 103-110.

Mallineni, S. S. K., Dong, Y., Behlow, H., Rao, A. M., & Podila, R. (2018). A wireless triboelectric nanogenerator. Advanced Energy Materials, 8(10), 1702736.


  1. "IU Webmaster redirect". ramakrp.people.clemson.edu. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  2. "An all-carbon optical diode for photonic computing". Nanowerk. Retrieved 2020-08-31.
  3. Anand, Benoy; Podila, Ramakrishna; Lingam, Kiran; Krishnan, S. R.; Siva Sankara Sai, S.; Philip, Reji; Rao, Apparao M. (2013-12-11). "Optical Diode Action from Axially Asymmetric Nonlinearity in an All-Carbon Solid-State Device". Nano Letters. 13 (12): 5771–5776. doi:10.1021/nl403366d. ISSN 1530-6984. PMID 24224861.
  4. Pacha, Aswathi (2017-12-30). "Nanogenerators go wireless". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  5. "Improving the energy storage in graphene with defects". Nanowerk. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  6. "Novel 2D spacer materials for surface plasmon coupled emission sensing". Nanowerk. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  7. "Smartphone-based nano-biosensors for early detection of tuberculosis". Nanowerk. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  8. "Ramakrishna Podila - Google Scholar". scholar.google.com. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  9. [1], "Self Powered Wireless Sensor", issued 2018-11-16 
  10. [2], "Polymer-nanocarbon composites, methods of making composites, and energy storage devices including the composite", issued 2014-07-15 
  11. "Clemson researchers blaze new ground in wireless energy generation for future electronic gadgets". Newsstand | Clemson University News and Stories, South Carolina. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  12. Mallineni, Sai Sunil Kumar; Behlow, Herbert; Dong, Yongchang; Bhattacharya, Sriparna; Rao, Apparao M.; Podila, Ramakrishna (2017-05-01). "Facile and robust triboelectric nanogenerators assembled using off-the-shelf materials". Nano Energy. 35: 263–270. doi:10.1016/j.nanoen.2017.03.043. ISSN 2211-2855.
  13. "A new breakthrough in lithium-silicon batteries". Nanowerk. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  14. Pacha, Aswathi (2018-05-07). "Carbon nanotubes could revolutionise Li-ion batteries, say researchers". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  15. "Lower Cost, Roll-to-Roll Production of Carbon Nanotube Based Supercapacitors | InterNano". www.internano.org. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  16. Moore, Thomas L.; Pitzer, Joshua E.; Podila, Ramakrishna; Wang, Xiaojia; Lewis, Robert L.; Grimes, Stuart W.; Wilson, James R.; Skjervold, Even; Brown, Jared M.; Rao, Apparao; Alexis, Frank (April 2013). "Multifunctional Polymer-Coated Carbon Nanotubes for Safe Drug Delivery". Particle & Particle Systems Characterization : Measurement and Description of Particle Properties and Behavior in Powders and Other Disperse Systems. 30 (4): 365–373. doi:10.1002/ppsc.201200145. ISSN 0934-0866. PMC 5022564. PMID 27642231.
  17. "Clemson research could lead to therapeutic strategies to combat Alzheimer's, Type 2 diabetes and other diseases". Newsstand | Clemson University News and Stories, South Carolina. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  18. Raghavendra, Achyut J; Zhu, Jingyi; Gregory, Wren; Case, Fengjiao; Mulpur, Pradyumna; Khan, Shahzad; Srivastava, Anurag; Podila, Ramakrishna (2018-11-27). "Chemiplasmonics for high-throughput biosensors". International Journal of Nanomedicine. 13: 8051–8062. doi:10.2147/IJN.S186644. ISSN 1176-9114. PMC 6267718. PMID 30568445.
  19. Mulpur, Pradyumna; Yadavilli, Sairam; Mulpur, Praharsha; Kondiparthi, Neeharika; Sengupta, Bishwambhar; Rao, Apparao M.; Podila, Ramakrishna; Kamisetti, Venkataramaniah (2015-09-23). "Flexible Ag–C60 nano-biosensors based on surface plasmon coupled emission for clinical and forensic applications". Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. 17 (38): 25049–25054. doi:10.1039/C5CP04268B. ISSN 1463-9084. PMID 26345678.
  20. Mandel, Savannah (2020-02-04). "Urokinase plasminogen activator detector helps monitor cancer". Scilight. 2020 (6): 061109. doi:10.1063/10.0000741.
  21. Hutto '17, Sara Ann (2019-12-16). "Roaring 10: 2019 Honorees". Clemson World Magazine. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  22. "Funding". Laboratory of Nano-BioPhysics. 2018-04-30. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  23. "Clemson Nanomaterials Center reaches out to community". Newsstand | Clemson University News and Stories, South Carolina. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  24. "Outreach". Laboratory of Nano-BioPhysics. 2016-06-21. Retrieved 2020-09-01.

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