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Overview

Nanoscience reveals and explains the novel and complex behaviour of matter on the scale of nanometres.

We collaborate on projects across chemistry, physics, materials science, surface science, optics and nanomechanics, with the goal of creating a detailed understanding of how to control the structure of nanomaterials.

Our ultimate aim is to develop and advance functionalities that enable emerging technologies and address challenges faced by society.

Our students

"One of the best parts of the chemistry degree is your capstone project, where you actually get to do research on something that’s never been done before.

What I got to do was remove BPA which is a common breast cancer causing agent from water, just using clays."

Jack, Bachelor of Science (Chemistry) student

Bachelor of Science (Chemistry)

"In my first semester in the Bachelor of Science, I completed the unit Quantitative Methods in Science.

This gave me the skills to do real-world research and I co-authored a conference paper in robotics in the following semester.

QUT has helped me develop my research toolbox and has supported me as early as possible to flourish in a number of research environments."

James Beattie

Bachelor of Science (Physics)

Research

Nanoscale materials have intriguing electronic, photonic and mechanical structure and properties, putting them at the forefront of applications in:

  • solar energy conversion
  • charge storage (batteries, supercapacitors)
  • sensors
  • light sources
  • biomaterials
  • superconductivity.

Our researchers collaborate on projects in specialised research groups and facilities across disciplines and institutions:

Student topics

Emerging materials

A range of research projects are available in experimental and computational studies of materials with properties tailored for specific emerging applications. Examples include materials with high permanent porosity (e.g. zeolites and covalent organic frameworks), high-performance boron materials, 2D materials, thin films, nanowires/nanotubes, nanocomposites and advanced materials interfaces.

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Green energy

A number of our researchers are working on reliable and high performing methods to convert, store and transmit energy, including photovoltaics, batteries, supercapacitors and high temperature superconductors.

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Light/matter interaction

Our nanoscience researchers are working on a number of topics in applied optics, with specific strengths in technique development for optical measurements, plasmonic nanostructures and light-emitting nanomaterials.

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Plasma nanoscience

Plasmas are a versatile tool for materials synthesis and modification. We have projects available in plasma catalysis, plasmas for cleantech applications, plasma medicine and plasma nanotechnology, among other topics.

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Surface science

Our projects in surface science involve using clean, crystalline surfaces as the foundation for making and studying new materials on an atom-by-atom or molecule-by-molecule basis.

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Projects

Xe-plasma dual beam for advanced future materials

Project leaders
Dates

2018-2019

Project summary

This ARC Linkage infrastructure, equipment and facilities funded project aims to establish a state of the art Xe-Plasma dual-beam facility providing characterisation and fabrication capabilities to Australia’s research community. The project will use two beams - one Xe, the other electrons - to mill the surface of bulk materials which are subsequently analysed by electron or ion beam techniques to determine atomic-scale microstructure(s) and compositions.

Anticipated outcomes are advanced materials engineering and new knowledge about ancient and future materials. This is expected to provide significant advances across a variety of fields including material science, engineering and geology and enhance trans-disciplinary collaborations.

Characterisation of mechanical behaviour of lithiated silicon

Project leader

Professor Cheng Yan

Dates

2018-2020

Project summary

This project aims to develop novel characterisation and numerical techniques, therefore aiming to solve the problem of mechanical failure in silicon based high energy density lithium-ion batteries. This will be achieved through development of novel techniques for in situ microscopy observation, nano-mechanics testing and atomistic modeling. The expected outcomes are effective solutions for development of reliable and efficient battery systems.

This project will provide significant benefits in the development of new power sources and energy storage devices for mobile electronics, electric vehicle and sustainable energy industries.

In situ electron microscopy toward new materials and applications

Project leader
Professor Dmitri Golberg
Dates

2017-2022

Project summary

This project will probe fundamental mechanical, electrical, thermal, optical, optoelectronic and photovoltaic properties of diverse nanostructures, targeting novel materials for structural and green energy applications. We will use spatially-resolved, dynamic in situ transmission electron microscopy. These techniques allow for direct measurement of nanomaterial (1D nanotubes and nanowires and 2D graphene-like nanosheets) response to external mechanical, electrical, optical and thermal stimuli . This will enable design of new ultralight and superstrong structural composites and green energy nanomaterials, such as solar cells, touch panels, batteries, supercapacitors, field-effect transistors, light sensors and displays.

Plasma-enabled processes of high-quality graphen films in touch screen devices

Project leader

Professor Kostya (Ken) Ostrikov

Dates

2016-2019

Project summary

The project aims to develop novel plasma-enabled processes for low-cost, energy-efficient, and scalable growth of high-quality graphene films for applications in touch screen, solar cell and other devices. It aims to discover non-equilibrium plasma-surface interactions enabling nucleation and growth of graphene films with large and low-defect domains on metal catalysts at low temperatures, and then develop energy-efficient, environment-friendly, and scalable fabrication and device transfer processes. These processes are designed to retain high quality of graphene films upon scale-up and will be compatible with the existing and emerging applications in touch screens and other devices.The expected outcomes include fundamental understanding and novel practical approaches to control synthesis and device integration of two-dimensional atomically-thin materials.

Reducing carbon dioxide to useful products using solar energy

Project leader

Dr Jingsan Xu

Dates

2016-2019

Project summary

The project aims to develop novel photocatalysts for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) to useful products using solar energy. Carbon dioxide (CO2) photoreduction is attracting growing attention because of its potential to mitigate CO2 emissions and convert the captured CO2 to chemical commodities. The project also plans to identify the photocatalytic mechanisms of the catalysts by investigating the reaction systems, such as the interface morphology, structure coherence and energy alignment of the component phases and reactant. Innovative technologies in the field of sunlight-driven photocatalysis have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Characterisation of mechanical behaviour of TiO2 nanotube thin films

Project leader

Professor Cheng Yan

Dates

2015-2017

Project summary

Vertically aligned titanium oxide (TiO2) nanotube arrays have demonstrated remarkable properties for application in dyesensitised solar cell, photocatalysis, self-cleaning coating, purification of pollutants and orthopaedic implants. More excitingly, their architecture and dimensions can be precisely controlled using anodisation of titanium (Ti), creating considerable scientific interest and practical importance.

This project aims to develop novel techniques for determining the mechanical behaviour of TiO2 nanotube arrays and its dependence on crystal structure and geometrical parameters. The outcomes are expected to provide solutions to development of robust TiO2 and other nanotube arrays for broad applications in sustainable energy and tissue engineering.

Nanoscale electrochemical imaging of catalyst inks for water oxidation

Project leader

Professor Anthony O'Mullane

Dates

2018-2020

Project summary

This project aims to reduce the cost of current water splitting technology by making new catalysts from earth abundant materials that will ensure a sustainable technological solution for the storage of renewable energy. This technology is an excellent solution to storing energy from intermittent renewable energy sources such as solar as it generates hydrogen which is a clean fuel.

Using new techniques that can image the catalyst at the nanoscale while it is operating is expected to provide the knowledge for developing the next generation of water splitting electrolysers that can be utilised by households and businesses for storing solar or wind energy.

Antibacterial impact assessment of nanopillar surfaces on titanium implants

Project leader
Project summary

This project aims to further understand the bactericidal properties of nano-pillared/textured surfaces, onto orthopaedic implants. It will do so by mimicking the nano-pillar structures derived from cicada wings by using Helium ion microscopy (HIM) and also Hydro Thermal techniques. The project also aims to study the physical mechanisms of the fracture of bacteria using numerical modelling.

This project will result in new generation implants with minimal bacterial infection that could result in cost savings to the Australian healthcare, improved quality of life in aged population, and may lead to the establishment of new implant industry sector in Australia.

Our topics

Are you looking to study at a higher or more detailed level? We are currently looking for students to research topics at a variety of study levels, including PhD, Masters, Honours or the Vacation Research Experience Scheme (VRES).

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Our experts

We host an expert team of researchers and teaching staff, including Head of School and discipline leaders. Our discipline brings together a diverse team of experts who deliver world-class education and achieve breakthroughs in research.

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