Meet Sabiar Rahaman

Sabiar, a graduate in Physics, is a PhD student at the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), Bengaluru working under the supervision of Dr. Kavita Pandey. His research work focuses on the use of nanomaterials in the next-generation flexible energy storage devices.

Discovering the researcher within
Some minds are just passionately curious and for such people, getting into a PhD program happens organically. What is your story? What made you believe that PhD is your thing? Are there any inspirations you can point to?

Behind every research lies the love of dedication and punctuality, and this is what I am keen to follow now. During my early stages of life, I wanted to pursue research to reach a better position in my career but it soon proved to be my misconception. I realized later that research will actually help me to contribute to society by accomplishing my research goals in the entrusted field. That is where the joy of devoting oneself entirely to research emerges.

Since my childhood, I have been passionately curious about the everyday happenings around me. In due course of time, I was particularly fascinated by the interplay between physics and mathematics at school. This inspired me to take Physics in the graduate level at Maulana Azad College (University of Calcutta), where I got a chance to attend lectures on different topics of science delivered by eminent researchers. It grabbed hold of me and curved a permanent place in my heart. I strived to learn more, and that is how I decided to enroll in a PhD program in my current institute, CeNS.

The Big Picture
What challenges are driving your research within that larger question? Why does this study matter?

The development of next-generation energy storage devices will play a crucial role in the future of sustainable energy since they have been widely used in portable electronics, electric/hybrid vehicles, stationary power stations, etc. To meet a truly sustainable energy storage device, researchers have been widely using two-dimensional (2D) layered structures as electrode materials for energy storage applications. My main project has been, however, focused on the fabrication of flexible micro-supercapacitors with high power density. My research is not only to obtain a supercapacitor with high-power density but also to put our special effort to enhance the energy density. Along with that, I have been trying to synthesize 2D porous materials, which could produce all the desired results of the supercapacitor. We have also synthesized some organic 2D coordination polymers and 2D perovskite materials, revealing very satisfactory signs in their application.




All-important student-advisor relationship
The healthy sound student-advisor relationship is the basis for good performance and success of any such research collaboration. How is your experience working with your PhD advisor?

Maintaining a good working relationship with supervisors is very important since they are the ones who are going to guide and monitor us till the end of this journey successfully. I am, however, very privileged to have a supervisor like Dr. Kavita Pandey, who is very frank and always puts her sincere efforts to stimulate and expand my thinking into creativity efficiently. Curiously I always feel this joy working under her supervision.

Life outside of work
Having a healthy work-life balance is imperative that takes care of the overall wellness of the individual and boosts one’s productivity. Is there such a thing as work-life balance for a research scholar? How do you motivate yourself to keep going?

The life of a researcher is a disciplined one. To get over the monotony, I sometimes listen to music and again get back to my work. Outside my research life, I spend time talking to people and appreciating their peculiarities, enjoying spare time with my friends and travelling to new places. Also, to improve my tolerance and creativity, I practice meditation and forget the hue and cry of this city life.

Thriving, and not just surviving
Embarking on a PhD is life’s big decision. It may not always be smooth sailing. The journey sees it all: Highways, side roads, and dead ends. What are those lessons you have learned along this journey so far?

A PhD journey is a long and tumultuous one. Of course, it is not straightforward but crossing multiple ways to finding a solution. It is the very questioning— an essential part of research— that, at times, pushes one into disappointments, failures and self-doubt. What shapes us during this entire journey is the reflective understanding and a strong determination to overcome the fear of failure. This is the phase that teaches us the lessons of maintaining calm, stability and to remain focused on our goal. I feel pleasure when this problem gets closer to identification through self-revelation where one knew no bound of joy.

Compiled by
Piyushi Nautiyal,
Science Communication and Outreach Manager, India UK ISCC