Nanotechnology and plasma technology

Nanotechnology research at the Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) is focused on developing novel nanomaterials and using nanotechnology to solve some of today's biggest challenges. Plasma is an exciting, environmentally friendly way of shaping materials for scientific and industrial applications.
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Science and engineering conducted at the smallest scale

Nanotechnology research at Deakin University is focused on developing novel nanomaterials and using nanotechnology to solve some of today's challenges in energy storage (batteries and supercapacitors), environmental protection and health and medical issues.

Plasma is an exciting, environmentally friendly technology with a wide range of applications. 

Our research ranges from tailoring surfaces/interfaces, improving energy efficiency of solar cells and batteries, biomaterials, nanomaterials, sensors and nano-composites to food sterilisation, agriculture, wastewater treatment and electronic textiles.

By using plasma technology, we have started to increase the efficiency of solar cells. We believe this is one step closer to seeing our city buildings covered with cheap, flexible and efficient solar panels so that, just like a rainforest, every bit of sunlight is captured and used without leaving any carbon footprint.



Prof. Ian Chen - Nanotechnology

Professor Ian Chen discusses how the Institute of Frontier Materials is making a difference in Nanotechnology research.

Nanotechnology research

Energy storage

The use of nanotechnology and nanomaterials are key approaches to improve the performance of energy storage technologies.

We are using our experience in nanomaterials synthesis and applications to develop new electrode materials for batteries and supercapacitors.

Some examples are li-ion batteries for electrical vehicles, nanostructured electrodes for li-ion batteries and supercapacitors with high power density for energy storage and backup.


Nanotechnology research has a range of applications in areas as diverse as environmental protection and healthcare. Our research focuses on:

  • water resource protection by removing solvents, dyes and other contaminants
  • cleaning up oil spills on land and water
  • drug delivery.

Novel nanomaterials

Research in the area of one- and two-dimensional nanomaterials is advancing rapidly with potentially huge benefits for clean energy, environmental protection and medical sciences.

Our group has extensive research expertise in boron nitride nanotubes, synthesis of nanoparticles, nanotubes and nanowires, nanosheets and nanocomposites.

Plasma technology research


Desirable surfaces and interfaces are required for new materials.

Our focus has been on:

  • tailoring surfaces/interfaces to meet customer requirements including smart functionalised coatings, soft/hard coatings and barrier coatings
  • achieving controllable and selective functional groups, and surface structures
  • avoiding surface/interface contamination using a custom-designed advanced plasma facility.

Energy materials

Our main focus has been on producing functional nano-semiconductors as electrodes to improve the efficiency of energy devices. 

We have developed a unique plasma+heat technology that combines plasma and thermal energy to fabricate doped functional nano-semiconductors. 

Several plasma sources have been designed to enable different types of nano-fabrication.

Nano-composites and textiles

The challenges for producing stronger and lighter nano-composites are:

  • the interface bonding between nanomaterial and matrix
  • a uniform dispersion of the nanomaterials.

We have developed a stirring plasma technology to address the challenges of achieving uniform dispersion with a high density of functional groups and easy handling without affecting the structure of nanomaterials. 

We have also developed a novel plasma method that combines advantages of continuous wave plasma and pulsed plasma for surface functionalisation of nanomaterials.

Our research in textile applications ranges from anti-pilling of wool knitwear, through electronic textiles, carbon fibre sizing, to super-hydrophobic textiles.

Liquid plasma and its applications

Liquid plasma is an exciting technology for applications in biomedicine, nanoscience and agriculture. 

The challenge has been to achieve selectivity for the desired reactive species and efficient production of the required species in liquid for specific applications. 

We have developed a plasma gas bubble-in-liquid method using a nanosecond pulse generator with different gases and achieved high production of selectable reactive species. 

The new technology has been applied to milk sterilisation, enhanced plant growth, wastewater treatment, and nanomaterial fabrication.

Recent research

Turning water into fuel

It might seem as unlikely as turning water into wine, but Deakin researchers have helped to develop a new way to turn water into hydrogen fuel.

The breakthrough is an important step towards large-scale conversion of water to hydrogen – creating a powerful green energy source from one of our most ubiquitous resources – water.

Researchers from Deakin’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) have helped to develop a hybrid nano-material that – unlike the traditional method of obtaining hydrogen from fossil fuels – removes hydrogen from water through an electrochemical process.

Featured researcher

Professor Ying (Ian) Chen is well-known and respected internationally for his work in nanomaterials and nanotechnology. His work has made a significant impact in these relatively new areas and the results of this work are far reaching. From helping to develop a newly manufactured material, which can clean up oil spills by literally absorbing the oil like a sponge, to being part of a team that helped develop a new process of turning water into hydrogen fuel, Professor Chen continues to be a pioneer within the Institute of Frontier Materials.

BN nanotube commercial services

To meet the demands of BN nanotubes for research and application, we provide small amounts of BN nanotubes with a charge to cover our production costs.

The BN nanotubes are produced using a patented ball milling and annealing method. This method can produce BN nanotubes with different tubular structures and sizes.

Product Structure Diameter Purity Price (AU$) Minimum
BN nanotubes Bamboo-like 40-80nm ~70% $760/g 0.5g
BN nanotubes Cylindrical <15nm <50% $950/g 0.5g
BN nanotube films grown on substrate Bamboo-like 40-80nm ~80% $328/
1 piece

For ordering and commercial opportunities, please contact us:

BN Nanotube Commercial Services
Dr Luhua Li
+61 3 5227 2589
Email Dr Li

IFM, GTP Building
Deakin University
Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus
Waurn Ponds, Victoria 3216

Contact us

Professor Ying (Ian) Chen
Email Professor Chen

Plasma technology
Dr Weiwei Lei
Email Dr Weiwei Lei