Professor Feroz Alam Khan - Group leader in Bangladesh

Meet Professor Feroz Alam Khan, group leader of the ISP supported research group in the Development of Magnetic Materials, at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).

ISP started its collaboration with the Bangladesh University of Engineering (BUET) and the Atomic Energy Center (AECD), both in Dhaka, Bangladesh in the early 1980’s.  At that time the Department of Physics at BUET was a center point for engineering education but had almost no facilities for postgraduate research and training in the basic sciences. Being an institute directly funded by the government the AECD, however, had some equipment for doing basic research. These two institutes joined together and formed a research group that could conduct basic science research using their own manpower and resources. When ISP established collaboration with the group in 1985 an experimental physics degree program on the MPhil and PhD level started on a sandwich basis with Uppsala University, Sweden.

- ISP started its support by providing some small scale equipment so that we could go forward with our research. But most importantly ISP helped to develop the skilled manpower and the technical knowhow in the group over time. Together with university resources and the support from ISP we have managed to build up the group and the laboratory. Today we can perform most of our experiments in our laboratory with only some complementary research work overseas. This I consider as a big step forward for developing the Science and Technology in Bangladesh.

The group primarily started its postgraduate research in experimental physics on material sciences in the field of bulk magnetism studying the magnetic properties of different types of materials. To keep up with the rapid changing technological needs and the advanced laboratories in the world the group had to change its focus from the bulk magnetic system to the studies of nanostructure magnetic materials. The miniaturization of devices for technological components in science and technology has increased the demand of development of nanostructured magnetic materials.

Recently the group has also included research in magnetism related to cancer therapeutics and targeted drug delivery. Currently this research activity is at a primary stage and the group is looking forward to its full-fledged activities in the near future.  A number of students are also involved in working with a water purification project for drinking water using magnetic filters and nanoporous materials which are expected to remove undissolved metallic particles and filter out harmful bacteria.

Being involved in a high tech research area requires skilled manpower as well as expensive high tech equipment. Professor Khan’s research group has a good number of qualified and expert people, to deal with the high cost issue the group is building some of their own research equipment making use of local resources available. To mention a few, Prof. Khan has made a Vibrating Sample Magnetometer (VSM), a Magneto-striction measurement set-up and magnetic water purifiers, all of which are currently being used for postgraduate research in magnetism.

In future Professor Feroz Khan would like to expand his research laboratory to a research institute to be able to involve more people in basic science research and is hoping for more government support.

- As a developing country it is very relevant to conduct basic science research. We need to make use of the expert people from Bangladesh who is graduating from our country and from abroad. What we need is for our government to step forward, both in regards of increasing funding to research laboratories as well as promoting industry-university collaborations. When that happens the scale of development will be much faster.

July 2015