Materials engineering

Our globally recognised materials engineering researchers focus on the discovery, design and application of new and specialist materials, and the processes by which they're created. Our work plays a unique role in solving real-world problems, and is underpinned by an industrial and societal requirement for advanced materials that will improve sustainability, performance, and affordability of materials.

image of hydrogen molecules

Our materials engineering research is conducted in state-of-the-art laboratories located at the Engineering North Building and the Helen Mayo North Building. Our capability spans the following areas:

  • Circular Economy of Battery materials
  • Functional nanomaterials for fuel production from renewable electricity, H2, synthetic fuels, and green ammonia
  • Photocatalyst materials for solar-fuel production
  • Energy storage materials: rechargeable batteries, supercapacitors, aqueous batteries, storageof H2
  • Nanomaterials for fuel cell electrodes
  • Process engineering of nanomaterials (e.g. nitrogen doped carbon nanodots) and quantum materials
  • Graphene and 2D materials for industrial applications; coatings, electronic applications, additive manufacturing, and applied device prototyping
  • Nanomaterials for environment and water remediation
  • Materials for optical sensing and bio-sensing
  • Advanced characterisation of materials
  • Modelling of materials by ab initio methods and force-field based methods
  • Fabrication and application of Quantum Materials

Our materials engineering and nanotechnology capability achieved the highest ranking (5; well above world standard) as evaluated by Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). We are the home to world leading researchers – Prof Shizhang Qiao (doubleHi-Ci in Materials Science and Chemistry; Laureate Fellow), Prof Shaobin Wang (double Hi-Ci in Chemistry and Engineering and Prof Zaiping Guo (Hi-Ci; Laureate Fellow). 

  • Research impact

    We’re making an impact through the following research projects, hubs, and fellowships:

    • Solar-driven sustainable production of fuels and chemicals.
    • Laureate Fellowship, funded by the Australian Research Council.
    • Design the next generation of batteries. Laureate Fellowship, funded by the Australian Research Council.
    • ARC Research Hub for Graphene Enabled Industry Transformation. Funded by the Australian Research Council and industry partners.
    • ARC Research Hub in New Safe and Reliable Energy Storage and Conversion Technologies. Funded by the Australian Research Counciland industry partners.
    • Electrocatalytic Refinery for Fuels and Chemicals. Future Fellowship, funded by the Australian Research Council.
    • Develop Catalyst Materials for Future Fuels by Operando Computation. Future Fellowship, funded by the Australian Research Council.
    • Single-atom anchored photocatalysts for solar ammonia production. ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, funded by the Australian Research Council.
    • Functional carbon hybrids for green catalysis and clean water. ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, funded by the Australian Research Council.
    • Photonic Viropsy: Harnessing light on chip for precise SARS–CoV–2 diagnosis, funding by the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund.
    • Catalytic Degradationof Emerging Microplastic Pollutants. Discovery Project, funded by Australian Research Council.
    • Green remediation of water by smart micro-reactors. Discovery Project, funded by Australian Research Council.
    • Batteries of the future-a new strategy for CO2 fixation and energy storage.Discovery Project, funded by Australian Research Council.
    • Low cost aqueous rechargeable zinc batteries for grid-scale energy storage, Discovery Project, funded by Australian Research Council.
    • High energy density, long life, safe lithium-Ion battery for electric cars, Linkage Project, funded by Australian Research Council.
    • Safe and Reliable Solid-State Zinc Batteries, Discovery Project, funded by Australian Research Council.
    • Bioinspired photo–iontronic membranes for smart neuron-mimicking systems, Discovery Project, funded by Australian Research Council.
  • Consulting services

    We advise on, contribute to and lead, projects relating to:

    • Research programs for national and state research-and-development schemes, such as Cooperative Research Centres and the Premier’s Science and Research Fund
    • High-energy lithium Ion battery for electric cars (co-invested research, consulting)
    • Low-cost aqueous zinc batteries for large-scale renewable energy storage (co-invested research, consulting, patent)
    • Metal-carbon dioxide batteries for CO2 fixation and energy storage (co-invested research, consulting)
    • Sustainable recycling of spent rechargeable batteries (co-invested research, consulting)
    • Materials for green hydrogen production and utilization research project (co-invested research, consulting)
    • Safe, high performance, low-cost aqueous batteries project (co-invested research, consulting, patent)
    • Next-generation synthetic fuel research project (co-invested research, consulting)
    • Advanced water purification and disinfection technologies (co-invested research, consulting)
    • Solid waste management and upgrading to value-added products (co-invested research, consulting)
  • Our researchers

  • Fields of Research codes

    Our materials engineering research strength covers the following Fields of Research (FoR)Codes: Functional materials(401605),Electrochemical energy storage and conversion(400404), Micro-and nanosystems(401801), Nanofabrication, growth and self-assembly(401805), Nanomaterials(401807), Nanophotonics(401809), and Nanoscale characterisation(401810).

Higher degrees by research

Whether you intend to work in research or industry, a higher degree by research can give you a competitive edge throughout your career. Find out more about studying a Master of Philosophy or Doctor of Philosophy.

Higher degrees by research