Deakin Research

Institute for Frontier Materials

Porous metals

Project Examples


The porous metals team at the Institute for Frontier Materials is involved in developing porous metal materials, including porous titanium alloys, aluminium alloys, magnesium alloys and nickel alloys. Researches are mainly focused on the processing, characterisation and evaluation of the porous metals.

Recently, porous metal materials are becoming attractive to researchers interested in both scientific and industrial applications due to their unique combination of biological, physical, mechanical, thermal, electrical and acoustic properties in conjunction with excellent energy absorption characteristics. At the CMFI, the porous metals team is dedicated to develop porous titanium, aluminium, magnesium and nickel alloys. Porous titanium alloys are metallic biomaterials designed for load-bearing implant applications. These materials possess excellent mechanical properties, biocompatibility, bioactivity and bone tissue ingrowth ability. On the other hand, porous aluminium alloy foams and magnesium alloy foams are designed for structural and automotive applications. The porous aluminum and magnesium alloy foams can be exploited in structural materials and automotive industry with an aim to reduce weight, to improve crashworthiness, safety and comfort, because porous aluminum and magnesium can be served as a lightweight panel, absorbing energy in crash situations and carrying sound or heat absorbing functions. Porous nickel alloy foams are designed for electrodes of nickel cadmium and nickel metal hydride batteries in electric vehicles, catalysts, diesel particulate filters and silencers.

The projects undertaken by the porous metals team use advanced characterisation and evaluation methods to explore the fundamental science behind the performance of a new alloys or porous alloy foams. In addition to the facilities at CMFI, we have ongoing national and international collaborations with Japan, China and Australian universities such as LaTrobe University which provides access to additional advanced characterisation equipment.


  • Mechanical alloying - Ball mills for synthesis new alloys
  • Cold press - for consolidation of metal powders
  • Cold/hot extrusion - for cold/hot consolidation metal powders or precursors
  • High vacuum sintering/heat treatment - electrical furnaces for sintering or heat treatments at various temperature ranges
  • XRD/SEM-EDS - for characterisation and evaluation of metal powders, phase transformation, composition analysis
  • DSC/TG - differential scanning calorimetry analysis / thermogravimetric analysis
  • MTS - for mechanical properties testing
  • Nanoindentor - measures nanohardness of surfaces, can accurately place indentor to measure (for example) individual grains
  • Atomic Force Microscopy - measures surface topography
  • Incubator - for in vitro tests

Research themes

At IFM, there are seven themes of research at this topic:

  1. Develop new processing methods for the manufacturing of new biocompatible Ti alloys/alloy foams, aluminium alloy foams, magnesium alloy foams and nickel alloy foams.
  2. Characterise and evaluate the new porous metals.
  3. Determine how alloy additions and processing parameters affect processability and sinterability.
  4. Establish the relationship between the microstructure, the porous structure and the mechanical properties of the metal foams. Mechanical properties include Young's modulus, yield strength, fracture toughness and fatigue strength.
  5. Surface modification on the new porous metals.
  6. Determine the bioactivity, biocompatibility and osseoinducibility of the metallic biomaterials.
  7. Develop new applications for the porous metals.
Porous Ni-Ti alloyMicro-porous nickel

Fig 1. Porous metals (a) porous Ni-Ti alloy and (b) micro-porous nickel.

Project Examples

A new cheap technology for magnesium metal foam production - M. Barnett and C. Wen

Developing Novel Surfaces for Implant Materials - X. Wang, C. Wen

Metallic Biomaterials - J. Lin, Y. Li and C. Wen

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

19th February 2012