The drive to deliver the next generation technologies relies heavily on the discovery, design and application of new and functional materials and the processes by which they are created.
Functional materials can be defined as materials that possess particular functions of their own and can be found in many application areas, such as: energy and catalysis materials, materials for environmental remediation, biomaterials, building materials, mechanical materials and sending materials.
Our research aims to address real-life challenges related to the modelling, design, property, characterisation and manufacture of these newly engineered materials, from an atomic level to a practical level, to create materials that will have a significant and lasting impact on our society and industry.
We focus on three critical areas of research:
Materials for energy and catalysis applications. This includes functional nanomaterials for green H2 production, utilisation and storage; energy storage materials - rechargeable battery, supercapacitor, aqueous battery; synthetic fuel and green ammonia production from renewable energy resources; and materials for solar-fuel production.
Functional biomaterials for gene delivery and drug delivery, biosensing, dental restorations such as implants, bridges, inlays/onlays and all-ceramic crowns.
Carbon-based materials for environment, soil and water remediation; water detoxification; mine tailings recovery; biomedical and sensing applications; defence and space industries; construction materials reinforcement, and agriculture applications.
Our research and its impact on society
Our Functional Materials research and products can be applied to many impactful areas of society and industry, including:
- energy generation, conversion and storage
- environmental protection and remediation
- drug and gene delivery
- modelling of materials
- health and medicine
- information processing and communication technologies
- building and structure
- aircraft engines
- high-speed machining and chemical processing.
The partnership between Silanna Group and the University of Adelaide aims to bring new research capability to South Australia and the nation, developing world-leading products through the engineering of new and innovative semiconductor technology. Silanna’s products are used in the communications, defence, medical and space industries, including new types of solar cells, antennas for mobile phones, power switches and light-emitting diodes.
Catalysts could prove to be the key to converting carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into value-added products but their effectiveness depends on them being selective in how they work. Our researchers are inventing better materials to make the next generation of catalysts that will assist in creating alternative fuels that could help to reduce our carbon footprint.
Image: Shizhang Qiao, The University of Adelaide
Our research capabilities
Although our Functional Materials research has broad application across all industries, we have particularly strong research partnerships in several key sectors. These include:
- medical technology
- energy storage and conversion
Associated research centres and institutes
- ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub in New Safe and Reliable Energy Storage and Conversion Technologies
- ARC Research Hub for Graphene Enabled Industry Transformation
- Australian Institute for Machine Learning
- Centre of Materials for Energy and Catalysis
- Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics
- Institute for Minerals and Energy Resources
- Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing
- Silanna picoFAB Facility
Associate Professor Yan Jiao is the research theme leader for Functional Materials. She is an expert in the field of molecular modelling, the development of computational electrochemistry, and the design of energy materials by computation methods.