Deakin enters the nanotechnology big league

Mon, 15 Mar 2010 13:13:00 +1100

Professor Ian Chen wants to make one thing clear: when Deakin was awarded its largest ever LIEF grant last year it was only as the result of a genuine team effort.

The $1 million grant under the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) scheme is the major contribution to the purchase of a state of the art Field Emission Gun Transmission Electron Microscope.

The new $1.9 million facility will take Deakin and its partners into the big league of research in nanotechnology, nationally and internationally.

“Deakin led the grant application and my name is attached to all that, something I am very proud of,” Professor Chen said.

“But it could not have happened without the really genuine support of a team of people, both at Deakin and from other Universities and research bodies.”

Deakin University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Lee Astheimer allocated substantial funding to support the application.

The University of Wollongong, the University of New South Wales and Swinburne University of Technology, and the CSIRO also contributed funding.

“Professor Astheimer really kicked our proposal along,” Professor Chen said. “When you get that sort of support from your own University, it says to the outside world that you are really serious about this research area.

“It made it easier for me to go my colleagues at other universities and at the CSIRO and I was pleased when they too, got behind the application.

“I also had a lot of good support at Deakin from Professor Peter Hodgson, Professor Xungai Wang, Associate Professor Matthew Barnett, Professor Neil Barnett and many other colleagues.

“So as a team we were able to put together a good submission with some very good names as Chief Investigators.”

The new facility gives Deakin and its partners enormous clout in nanotechnology, an area which many believe will have a bigger impact on the future of humanity than the Internet.

“It will allow us to see things at the nanoscale in a way we have not been able to do before,” Professor Chen says.

“This facility will improve significantly our current research ability not only in nanotechnology but also in biomaterials, polymer, fibre and even the fine structures of metal alloys.

“This will have flow on effects in clean energy, environmental protection and health care, fibres … there are a whole range of potential applications.”

Fittingly, the new facility will build even more teams in and around Deakin.Atomic force microscopy image of a 
graphite surface created by a scotch tape peeling.

“What we are finding already is that more researchers now want to come and work with us at Deakin,” Professor Chen.

“They know that we have this facility and we are serious about nano research and they want to be part of it. So we will have more teams of researchers working at the cutting edge.”

The LIEF funded facility is not the only attraction for nanotechnology researchers.

Professor Chen is thrilled to be able to already show off the world’s most powerful Atomic Force Microscope, the only one of its type in Australia.

“There are not many in the world, so I am pretty excited to have one here at Deakin,” Professor Chen said.

“There is a big future for Deakin in nanotechnology, we are a winning team!”

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20th August 2012