Particulate Science Makes Pharmaceuticals Possible

My name is Shankali Pradhan, and I do particle technology related research. Anyone can easily understand how liquids or gases behave. They flow really easily. Their behavior is pretty well understood. Solid powders, on the other hand, are very difficult to flow. They behave completely differently. So their behavior is very interesting, and that is what we try to study. You can see particulate products everywhere, right from the pharmaceutical tablets that you take, to agricultural products. Particle technology can be applied to all those places. This is the Particle Technology Lab. It is unique because particle technology research itself is not widely studied, and people are just trying to understand that powders don’t behave as liquids or gases behave. I’m studying particle granulation. This particular instrument is a twin-screw granulator. It has two screws inside of it that are rotating at a very high speed. We are mixing our powder, and a liquid which is a binder, together. So that holds the particles together and they form these little granules, which we will dry, and then we can see them to a specific size that we want, and then press it into a tablet. What I’m studying is how to get only the size of the granules that you want. Over here you can see very flake-like granules in this particular bed. But over here, you see more of these rounded irregular-shaped granules. One of the important applications of granulation: it reduces the dust hazards in the industry. Working with the powders does definitely cause a mess. They can cause respiratory disorders, as well as dust explosions. That’s something that’s very common in some of the powder processing industries. Granulation keeps all the particles together to mitigate these issues, and I think that’s where we play an important role. I was always interested in chemistry, so I really liked chemistry a lot. The kind of research that I was interested, in a lot of it was available at Purdue. So that is what made me choose Purdue. I come home very happy at the end of the day, and I think that’s what matters to me the most. I have enjoyed myself thoroughly over here, and I think it’s been a very unique experience.

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