Deakin Research

Institute for Frontier Materials

Functional Nanoparticles


Nanoparticles are at the forefront of the nanotechnology wave. They are less than about 100 nm in diameter that exhibit new or enhanced size-dependent properties compared with larger particles of the same material. The ability to fabricate and control the structure of nanoparticles allows the scientist and engineer to influence the resulting properties and, ultimately, design materials to give the desired properties. The current and potential applications for nanoparticles are growing and cover an extremely broad range of markets industries including biomedical & cancer treatment, renewable energy, environmental protection, pharmaceuticals, personal care, surface coatings, plastics, textiles, food, building materials, electronics, automotives, etc.

Applications of Nanoparticles
(from "Commercial scale production of inorganic nanoparticles", Takuya Tsuzuki,
International Journal of Nanotechnology, 6 (2009) 567)


  • Nanoparticle synthesis (bottom-up approach)
  • Nanoparticle synthesis (top-down approach, comminution by many types of mills)
  • Particle dispersion
  • Particle sizing (Laser light scattering, dynamic light scattering)
  • Optical characterisation (UVVis, FT-IR, luminescence)
  • Surface area & pore size distribution analysis
  • Structural characterisation (X-ray diffractometry)
  • Photocatalytic activity tests
  • Thermal characterisation (DSC, DMA and TGA)
  • Microscopy (SEM, TEM, AFM and optical microscopy)
  • Masterbatching
  • UV protection

Project Examples

Production of advanced nanoparticulate materials

The properties of nanoparticulate materials are influenced not only by particle size but also other characteristics such as particle shapes, crystallinity, crystal phase, impurities and surface chemistry. In order to optimise the performance of nanoparticles in various applications, it is vital to develop the methods to synthesise nanoparticles that are tailored to exhibit required properties. Our group has been investigating novel techniques to produce advanced nanoparticles and to control their key properties.

Some key papers:

  • T. Tsuzuki, "Commercial scale production of inorganic nanoparticles", International Journal of Nanotechnology, Vol 6, Nos 5/6, (2009) 567-578
  • P. G. McCormick, T. Tsuzuki, J. S. Robinson and J. Ding, "Nanopowders Synthesised by Mechanochemical Processing", Advanced Materials, 13 [12-13] (2001) 1008-1010
  • R. He, T. Tsuzuki, (2010) "Low Temperature Solvothermal Synthesis of ZnO quantum Dots", Journal of the American Ceramic Society, Vol. 93, No. 8, pp. 2281-2285
  • Tsuzuki T, Schäffel F, Muroi M, McCormick PG. (2011) "a-Fe2O3 nano-platelets prepared by mechanochemical/ thermal processing", Powder Technology, doi: 10.1016/j.powtec.2011.03.012

Nanoparticles for smart textiles and functional fibres

By incorporating nanoparticles in fibres or on textile surfaces, mechanical, physical and chemical properties of the fibres and textiles can be modified, leading to realisation of a broad range of unique functions. For example, UV protection of a range of textile substrates and organic dyes can be achieved through incorporation of TiO2 or ZnO nanoparticles into synthetic fibres or coating a substrate with a thin layer of nanoparticles. This project aims at the synthesis of various nanoparticles that provide fibres and textiles with added functionality such as self-cleaning, thermal control, fire retardant, antimicrobial, anti-static and radiation-shielding properties.

Some key papers:

  • Takuya Tsuzuki and Xungai Wang, (2010), "UV Blocking Textiles and Fibers by Nanoparticle Coatings", Research journal of Textile and Apparel, (in press).
  • Sun, Lu, Rippon, John A., Cookson, Peter G., Wang, Xungai, King, Ken, Koulaeva, Olga and Beltrame, Reno 2008, "Nano zinc oxide for UV protection of textiles", International journal of technology transfer & commercialisation, vol. 7, no. 2/3, pp. 224-235
  • Sun, Lu, Rippon, John, Cookson, Peter, Koulaeva, Olga and Wang, Xungai 2009, "Effects of undoped and manganese-doped zinc oxide nanoparticles on the colour fading of dyed polyester fabrics", Chemical engineering journal, vol. 147, no. 2-3, pp. 391-398

Nanoparticles & photocatalysis

Due to their large surface area, wide-bandgap semiconductor nanoparticles are excellent photocatalysts. They find a wide range of applications including solar cells, hydrogen gas fuel generation from water, functional coatings to create self-cleaning surfaces, and environmental remediation to decompose pathogens and organic contaminants. In all of these applications, natural sunlight can be used as a renewable energy source. Our group has been investigating the method to effectively control (reduction and enhancement) the photocatalytic activities of semiconductor nanoparticles using various approaches.

Some key papers:

  • Jinfeng Wang, Takuya Tsuzuki, Lu Sun, Xungai Wang, (2009) "Reducing the Photocatalytic Activity of Zinc Oxide Quantum Dots by Surface Modification" Journal of the American Ceramic Society, 92 [9] 2083 - 2088
  • Takuya Tsuzuki, Zoe Smith, Andrew Parker, Rongliang He, Xungai Wang (2009) "Photocatalytic Activity of Manganese-Doped ZnO Nanocrystalline Powders", Journal of the Australian Ceramic Society 45 [1] 58-62
  • A.C. Dodd, A. J. McKinley, T. Tsuzuki and M. Saunders (2009) "Tailoring the Photocatalytic Activity of Nanoparticulate Zinc Oxide by Transition Metal Oxide Doping", Materials Chemistry and Physics 114 382 - 386
  • A.C. Dodd, A. J. McKinley, M. Saunders and T. Tsuzuki "Effect of particle size on the photoactivity of nanoparticulate zinc oxide Journal of Nanoparticle Research" (2006) 8 1 43 - 51

SiO2 coated ZnO quantum dots
SiO2 coated ZnO quantum dots

Nanobiotechnology: Nanoparticles for biomedical applications

Due to their small size, functionalised nanoparticles are excellent vehicle to effectively deliver drugs to targeted locations in the body. Through collaboration with the Centre for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Sciences within ITRI, we are developing functionalised nanoparticles, mainly as therapy agents for cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases.


The generation of topical products such as sunscreens that contain nanoscale materials has generated concern about their potential effects on human health. It is unclear how nanoparticles interact with human skin cells. This project involves the propagation of human skin cells in culture and exposure of cells to several main classes of nanoparticles including zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The binding and intracellular localization of nanoparticles is being assessed by microscopy and their potential adverse effects are studied through analysis of markers for cell proliferation, death and free radical production.

Some key papers:

  • S. E. Cross, B. Innes, M. S. Roberts, T. Tsuzuki, T. A. Robertson and P. G. McCormick, (2007) "Human Skin Penetration of Sunscreen Nanoparticles: In-vitro Assessment of a Novel Micronised Zinc Oxide Formulation", Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 20 [3] 148-154

Energy Nanotechnology

Dye sensitised solar cells are the most promising next generation of solar cells because of their significantly lower production costs. However, their commercialisation is hindered by the problematic liquid component and their moderate efficiency. In this project we are developing new nano-architecture and new fabrication methods to improve cell efficiency. The successful outcome of the project will enable more robust, inexpensive, light-weight and flexible solar cells, contributing to the sustainability of our environment and society.

Deakin University acknowledges the traditional land owners of present campus sites.

19th February 2012