Deakin Research

Institute for Frontier Materials

Research Projects in Nanotechnology

ITRI has a large range of research activities in nanotechnology, from fundamental research to industrial applications. The current research covers the exciting nanomaterials from nanotubes, nanowires, nano-thin films, nanoparticles to applications in new energy storage, environmental protections, new advanced materials and medical sciences. The following PhD research projects are available for the students who are willing to join these cutting edge research programs.

Contact: Professor Ying (Ian) Chen

Project title: Oxide nanotubes and nanowires for new nanostructured electrodes of lithium ion batteries

Supervisors: Alexey Glushenkov and Ian Chen

Lithium ion batteries are widely used in portable electronic devices and play an important role in everyday life but the current battery cells are not satisfied in charging efficiency and safety. New nanomaterials and nanotechnology are expected to improve or overcome these problems. New electrodes made of nanotubes or nanowires can improve energy and power densities and cyclability. This PhD project will focus on the synthesis of oxide nanotubes and nanowires for new battery electrodes, which combine high capacity, good high rate capabilities and excellent cyclability. The project is in the exciting field of nanotechnology and combines several scientific disciplines such as crystal growth, materials science and solid-state chemistry.


Project title: Nanoporous nitrides for application in supercapacitors

Supervisors: Alexey Glushenkov and Ian Chen

Supercapacitors are very dense capacitors that are capable of storing and discharging large amounts electrical energy very rapidly. Nanostructured transition metal oxides and nitrides make the most important recent advances in supercapacitors. The electrodes made of such nanomaterials are capable of providing high capacitances due to the combination of surface redox reactions and electric double layer effects. This PhD project involves the synthesis of nanostructured transition metal nitrides and their electrochemical testing. The focus is on the synthesis of promising nitride systems and the design of their crystalline structure and surface properties in order to provide the best electrochemical performance in the electrodes of supercapacitors. The proposed research is in the exciting field of nanotechnology and combines several scientific disciplines such as crystal growth, solid-state chemistry, physics and electrochemistry.


Project title: Dye-sensitized solar cells built on TiO2/ZnO nanowires and polymer electrolyte

Supervisors: Peter Lamb, Takuya Tsuzuki and Ian Chen

Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) have great potential for low-cost generation of renewable energy. However, diffusion of photo-generated electrons in existing highly porous films of oxide nanoparticles is slow and limits carrier collection efficiency, especially at red wavelengths. Furthermore, first generation DSSCs use a liquid electrolyte and their performance can degrade over time. Research has shown that the liquid electrolyte can be replaced with a conducting polymer but these have not yet achieved the same efficiency for converting sunlight into electricity. The research project aims to build DSSCs on a dense array of oriented, single-crystal TiO2/ZnO nanowires as the nanowires' electron diffusivity is several hundred times larger than for TiO2 or ZnO nanoparticle films. Plasma deposition of polymers will be employed to produce better solid electrolytes for a much more efficient DSSC. The project involves nanowire synthesis, characterization, plasma deposition treatment and cell testing. The project is forefront research in Nanotechnology applications for improved energy generation and storage.


Project title: High performance nanobiosensors using plasma-aided nanofabrication and functionalization

Supervisors: Jane Dai, Ian Chen, Bronwyn Fox

Nanopattered surfaces of nanostructures can lead to a great improvement of sensor performance. Current methods for the production of nanopatterned surfaces require complex combinations of wet and dry techniques including colloidal lithography. The aim of this project is to achieve high performance sensors with high sensitivity, stability, reproducibility through an all-plasma route in a simple, effective and controllable production process. The patterns of various nanostructures (i.e. nanowires, nanotubes, and nanocones) will be firstly produced by plasma-aided nanofabrication process, and then plasma-etching and plasma surface functionalization (e.g. -COOH, -NH2, -SH, etc.) create desired interfaces (especially bio-interfaces). This special process produces increased surface areas, a better orientation of the biomolecules and the structures required by the high-performance sensors. We have well established nanofabrication systems, plasma-enhanced chemical vapour deposition reactors, and plasma surface functionalization facilities.


Project title: Single-wall carbon nanotube wires and sheets

Supervisors: Jane Dai, Ian Chen, Peter Lamb, Bronwyn Fox

Single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) have greater mechanical strength and new quantum-confinement effects over multiwall carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). SWCNTS are the most likely the candidate for miniaturizing electronics beyond the micro electromechanical scale that is currently the basis of modern electronics. Long wires and large sheets of SWNTs are critical to achieve this application. This research project aims to produce a SWCNT forest that can be drawn directly into a continuous wire or sheet of uncontaminated SWCNTs. This has been done with MWCNTs but not for SWCNTs. This cutting edge project requires a breakthrough in our fundamental understanding of SWCNT forest growth and wire drawability. We have well established CVD and plasma enhanced CVD nanofabrication systems and extensive successful experience with MWCNT forest growth and wire production. The project experimental work includes SWCNT forest synthesis, nanotube characterization and drawability testing.


Project title: Boron nitride nanotubes for new composite materials, medical and environmental applications

Supervisors: Luhua Li and Ying Ian Chen

Boron nitride nanotubes share the similar basic nanosized tubular structure as carbon nanotubes, but are more thermally and chemically stable than carbon nanotubes. Compared to the uncontrollable bandgap of carbon nanotubes, boron nitride nanotubes possess a uniform wide bandgap. Boron nitride nanotubes can be used in optoelctronics, targeted medicine delivery, high density data storage, high efficiency catalysis, etc. We invented a ball-milling and annealing method to produce large quantity and quality of boron nitride nanotubes, and we are one of the top boron nitride nanotube research groups in the world. This PhD research project aims to conduct research in applications of boron nitride nanotubes in various applications including gas sensing, VUV light emissions and new superstrong and high-temperature composites.


Project title: New properties of graphene layers

Supervisors: Haiquing Sun and Ian Chen

Graphene is a monolayer of graphite. This one atom thick layer is quite different from conventional three dimensional materials. Some preliminary studies already suggest graphene may be the strongest material on earth. Electronically, it has very high charge carrier density concentration and mobility. In particular, electrons and holes can have ballistic transport on the micrometre scale. So it becomes the most desirable candidate to replace silicon in semiconductor industry, though the existence of this two dimensional material was still in doubt a couple of years ago. It is also an ideal material for spintronics. These new properties promise the applications of graphene in fields such as nanoelectronics, sensors, nanocomposites, batteries, supercapacitors and hydrogen storage. But as the graphene's history is quite short, almost all research part of graphene is blank. This project will start from synthesis of graphene, then go to property analyses, and finally result in applications. At the mean time, other one-layered materials, such as, boron nitride, can also be exploited.


Project title: Bioactivity of silicon based nano-particles leaded with cell-growth inhibiting peptides

Supervisors: Christophe Lefevre and Ian Chen

This research project consists of the synthesis of silicon-based nanoparticles loaded with cell growth inhibitory bioactive peptides in order to assay their functionality on the inhibition of cell growth in vitro.


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

20th February 2012