Institute for Frontier Materials

The Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) is at the forefront of innovation in materials design and engineering research. Our key research areas fall under two main themes: innovative manufacturing technologies and energy efficiency; resource and infrastructure sustainability.

Developing the next generation of materials is very important for Australia and the world.

professor xungai wang

director, institute for frontier materials

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Our research focus

Recognised as one of Australia's leading materials research organisations, IFM was established to address some of the major challenges facing society through innovations in materials design and performance.

IFM makes use of the University's strong research capability in materials science to tackle complex problems in the areas of energy, health, environment and manufacturing.

Find out more about our research

Featured researchers

Meet just a few of our leading researchers producing world-class outcomes.

Professor Xungai Wang

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Professor Maria Forsyth


Professor Matthew Barnett


Innovative Research

Reduce, re-use, revolutionise

Each year, masses of material from unwanted clothing and other textile sources are deposited in landfill. A significant hurdle to recycling waste clothing and other textiles back into their original fibres is that most of this material is composed of blended fibres – the most common being polyester/cotton blends. While it is easy to recycle cotton and polyester individually, separating the blend into its individual components is the difficult part.

Deakin researchers Dr Nolene Byrne and Rasike De Silva have developed a simple process using an ionic liquid as an environmentally-friendly solvent to chemically separate polyester-cotton blends into their individual components. The new process is not limited to textile recycling but can also be applied to recycling any type of bio-composite material, including those used in the automotive industry.

Breakthrough in ballistics

In 2006, the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) put out a challenge to Australian scientists – find a way to put curves into ballistics armour materials. At the time, it seemed impossible. But ballistics fabric experts at Deakin couldn’t resist the challenge and chose the most difficult shape they could think of – the combat helmet.

Deakin chief investigator, Dr Minoo Naebe, and research engineer, Madhusudan Suryanarayana, developed a unique process – Double Diaphragm Deep Drawing (D4) – to curve and harden the Kevlar-style ballistic fibres into the correct shape. They designed a special machine that uses thermal forming to shear the fibres in ultra-high molecular weight ballistic fabric. As a result, they managed to achieve perfectly shaped shells that are 20–30 per cent lighter than current helmets. 

The technology will help Australian industry deliver world-class armour at a lower cost to the Australian Defence Force, allied military and paramilitary customers.

Deakin's Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM)

Recognised as one of Australia's leading materials research organisations, IFM's mission is to foster innovation and excellence in materials science and engineering research.

State-of-the-art facilities

The institute has a wide range of specialised laboratories in the areas of metals, composites, polymers, textiles and biomedical research. Each is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to enable our staff and students to undertake their research.

Find out more about IFM’s facilities

Only at Deakin

Using IFM’s belt abrasion tester (the only one in Australia), Dr Chris Hurren and engineering student Patrick Phillips have revealed the urgent need for standards for protective motorbike clothing in Australia. They tested 10 pairs of reinforced jeans marketed as protective motorcycle clothing. The results were quite a shock – only three pairs met the minimum requirements of the European standards for protective motorbike clothing. Three were close to the standard while the others were no more protective than ordinary (much cheaper) jeans. 

The results have attracted interest from motorcycle magazines as well as road transport authorities in a number of states.

The Australian Centre for Infrastructure Durability

Underpinned by dynamic population growth, continued urbanisation, demand for freight and passenger transport, as well as the ongoing need for energy and water security, our infrastructure landscape is a complex mix of new and ageing structures. The Australian Centre for Infrastructure Durability (ACID) is a collaboration between key universities to provide a more cohesive and comprehensive research capability for industry. It provides an integrated, national platform for industry across the key sectors of oil and gas, mining, transport and structures, defence and aerospace, and water and desalination to connect with leading researchers.

ACID seeks to harness the resources and expertise of key universities to help industry address its critical needs. At the same time, it seeks to facilitate growth in the collective university research capability in this field in order to promote industry growth.

Find out more about ACID

Join our research team

To become an IFM research student, you need to have a clear vision of what you want to investigate. For example, it could be new metallic biomaterials for use in artificial joint implants, new energy storage solutions or the development of new high-strength, lightweight materials.

In just a few steps you could help to create a more sustainable future, improving general quality of life or revolutionising the way we manufacture products.

Find out how to become a research student

Find a supervisor

Once you know what you want to do, you'll need to find a suitable supervisor. View our staff profiles and find out who specialises in the area you'd like to focus on. Then contact them to discuss your proposal.

Meet our staff

Contact us

The Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM)
General enquiries
+61 3 5227 3241   
Email IFM

Deakin University
Geelong Waterfront Campus  
Locked Bag 20000
Geelong, Victoria 3220

Twitter: @deakinIFM