Research activity in PAM is focused for the most part on the development of advanced materials, particularly for applications in nanotechnology, architectural lighting and energy efficiency.
This research ranges from fundamental questions about the nature of materials to development of new technologies, and uses techniques ranging from computational quantum chemical calculations right through to on-site measurements of, for example, heat flow and energy efficiency in a building.
Extensive, state-of-the-art experimental and computational facilities are available to researchers in the School through the UTS: Science's Microstructural Analysis Unit and through external links to the National Computational Infrastructure and NSW Intersect consortium.
A number of the research projects involve close links with industry where significant interaction between the School and other organisations such as CSIRO, ANSTO, the Bureau of Meteorology, and other Australian universities are maintained on an ongoing basis.
The School's research themes are listed below. Note that many of the individual research projects are actually overlapped over two or more themes:
- Physics of light-emitting semiconductors
- Architectural physics and energy efficiency
- Optical properties of nanostructures and nanomaterials
- Computational modelling of nanomaterial systems
- Material fabrication and characterisation by charged particle beams in reactive gaseous environments
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and the semiconducting materials from which they are made, have become an ubiquitous ingredient in modern telecommunications, computing and entertainment technology. These materials can also be used for energy efficient lighting in homes and offices, however widespread application of them in this role will require that certain scientific and technical challenges be solved first.
In this research theme PAM researchers are investigating the mechanisms by which light is generated and emitted by semiconductors, with a view to solving the problems that currently prevent the remarkable theoretical efficiency of these devices from being realised.
Contact: Prof. Matthew Phillips
There are an amazing number of ways in which energy is wasted in homes and offices. In this research theme many of the systems used in buildings, and the materials from which they are made, are being studied with the objective of enhancing energy efficiency. Improvement to the spectral selectivity of windows, roofs and other exterior surfaces has been identified as one of the most significant and readily accessible ways to reduce energy consumption. Special coating materials have been developed that can reflect heat or even cool a building.
Other research in this theme has focussed on new technologies to enhance indoor lighting. Much of the research in this theme has been conducted in collaboration with external partners.
Contact: Prof. Geoffrey B. Smith
Nanostructures and nanomaterials often have optical properties that are quite different to the bulk materials of the same chemical composition. New phenomena such as plasmon resonances can be exploited to produce useful and interesting new effects, such as plasmonic heating. The latter, for example, could be combined in principle with antibody-targeting to fight disease.
Plasmon resonances can also be exploited in a new generation of sensors and, potentially, telecommunication and logic devices. Spectral-selectivity is another useful aspect of some nanomaterials or nanostructures. Researchers operating in this theme are also interested in the synthesis and practical application of nanomaterials.
Contact: Prof. Michael Cortie
In this theme the properties of advanced materials are being investigated using a range of mathematical techniques, including state-of-the-art quantum chemical simulations. Not only do the calculations provide insights into material behaviour that cannot be obtained by experimental techniques, but they can also be performed on material systems that are very difficult or expensive to make in the laboratory. The projects in this theme are closely coupled to those of the other themes listed here.
Contact: A/Prof. Mike Ford
Material fabrication and characterisation by charged particle beams in reactive gaseous environments
Nanostructured materials can be fabricated and characterised with unprecedented flexibility using highly focused charged particle beams in reactive gaseous environments. We develop nano-scale electron and ion beam driven chemical processes and applications to advanced optoelectronic systems. Examples include bottom-up growth of 2 and 3 dimensional nanostructures, contacting of nanotubes and nanowires, and localised chemical etching of aerogels, oxides, graphene, diamond and other semiconductors.
The beams used for material fabrication are also used for imaging with an emphasis on novel contrast mechanisms that carry information on the electronic and defect structure of optoelectronic materials. Electron imaging is complemented by chemical, elemental and optoelectronic analysis techniques which are being applied to dynamic systems by performing processes like chemical vapor deposition inside electron microscopes. This work is conducted in close collaboration with FEI Company, a leading international microscope manufacturer of charged particle beam systems.
Contact: Prof. Milos Toth