Prof. Nair’s began his career as a Senior Research Scientist at Columbia University in the area of high temperature structural materials. Later he joined University of Massachusetts as a faculty of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, where he developed experience in the design of composite materials for a variety of structural applications and worked on polymer matrix-, metal matrix- and ceramic matrix-composites, particularly the application of fracture mechanics to composites. In 1994, Prof. Nair began his work on nanomaterials in collaboration with Monsanto Company and developed nanoclay reinforced composites and studied their fracture behavior. He also started working on biological nanomaterials while at University of Massachusetts, in particular, the synthesis of nano- hydroxyapatite.
In India, his experience has been in the area of medical applications of nanomaterials – namely, regenerative medicine, or tissue engineering, and in the development of nanomedicines. Prof. Nair, along with his team at Amrita, have developed biomedical products (such as protein nanomedicines for drug resistant leukemia, nano structured flexible wafers to prevent recurrence of brain tumors, smart contrast enhanced bone implants, nano yarn and cloth by combining nano processing with conventional textile technology that has applications in implants, etc.) using nanomaterials that can have a lasting impact in India. Prof. Nair and his team have taken initiative to translate these products to patients by setting up a translational GMP clean room facility at Amrita to provide a platform for scale-up and prototyping and for the initiation of human clinical trials. This is the first nano-bio GMP facility in India in the academic sector. On the energy side Prof. Nair and his team has developed simple and cost effective technologies for society, such as, smart solar charge controllers to facilitate home use of solar power in conjunction with the grid, cost-effective LED technology, cost-effective solar modules which they plan to integrate with storage so that people in villages without grid connectivity can be helped.
Prof. Nair has received Presidential Young Investigator Award from USA President Ronald Reagan, for his research in composite materials in 1986; National Research Award from the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India in 2011; Professor CNR Rao India Nanoscience Award for his outstanding contributions to the field of Nanoscience and Technology in 2014 and MRSI Gold Medal for outstanding contributions to Materials Science in 2009. He was the invited speaker at the UNAI-START conference on Technology for Sustainable Development, at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, USA, in 2015.