New labs to push forward advanced materials and manufacturing research

Enabling Capability Platform Directors Professor Rachel Caruso and Professor Ivan Cole and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, Professor Calum Drummond. Image credit: RMIT.

Two new research laboratories at RMIT University’s Melbourne City campus will focus on developing high-performance advanced materials and improving manufacturing and fabrication.

Researchers will use the labs to improve solar cell technology, battery efficiency, magnesium implants for patients, and water sensing and purification.

RMIT Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, Professor Calum Drummond, said the facilities were set to strengthen the University’s research achievements in areas that would directly benefit industry and the community.

“Our new labs will give us greater ability to quickly find industry-relevant solutions at a time when the need for energy efficient and high performing materials and advanced manufacturing is increasing exponentially,” he said.

The lab opening coincides with RMIT’s new partnership with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at the University of Sheffield to collaborate and exchange expertise across advanced manufacturing and engineering.

“We are building up an excellent platform for research, training and capability development in areas of key research strength.”

The Rapid Discovery and Fabrication Laboratory will be led by Advanced Manufacturing and Fabrication Enabling Capability Platform Director, Professor Ivan Cole.

Key research areas of the lab will include:

  • Developing cheap “lab-on-a chip” sensing technology to detect toxins in water, which will be valuable to developing countries;
  • Identifying non-toxic compounds to protect metals from corrosion, with applications in cars, planes, buildings and other assets that are currently protected by toxic substances;
  • Developing magnesium implants that break down at the same rate at which bones repair, so that new bone can slowly replace temporary implants in the body.

The Advanced Porous Materials Laboratory will be led by Advanced Materials Enabling Capability Platform Director, Professor Rachel Caruso.

Key research areas of the lab will include:

  • Designing batteries with improved efficiency, weight and lifetime, with various applications including electric vehicles;
  • Improving solar cells by developing a more compact and flexible thin film with improved efficiency;
  • Developing cost-effective, efficient water purifiers using solar energy to remove organic pollutants and molecules from large volumes of water.

The facilities and equipment are expected to enable high-throughput experimentation, where large numbers of tests run simultaneously, as well as advanced computational modelling.