Discovery Grant Success for QCMS!

QCMS Celebrates Share in $3.25 Million Funding for Discovery Project Applications

QUT’s Centre for Materials Science is delighted to share in The Australian Research Council’s (ARC) allocated $220.2 million in funding for research projects under the ARC Discovery Projects scheme.

The awarded Discovery Projects will bolster both fundamental and applied research, contributing to the expansion of Australia’s knowledge base and research capabilities. This funding also aligns with the Australian Government’s priority areas, ensuring that the research is both relevant and impactful. Researchers and research teams backed by ARC funding are poised to deliver economic, commercial, environmental, social, and cultural benefits to the Australian community.

Some of the Discovery Projects set to commence in 2024 include research led by esteemed Centre scientists Professors Stephen Blanksby, Dmitri Golberg, Hongxia Wang, Ting Liao, Ziqi Sun, Associate Professor Liangzhi Kou, and Dr Yilin Gui. These projects delve into crucial areas like understanding halogen-induced ozone loss, developing novel two-dimensional nanomaterials known as “Janus” transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), exploring the thermo-hydro-mechanical properties of compacted bentonite, designing high-efficiency catalysts for electrochemical urea synthesis, and many more.

Full QCMS list (taken from ARC website):

Professor Stephen Blanksby; Professor Evan Bieske; Professor Adam Trevitt

Bromine and iodine are suspected to be responsible for most of the halogen-induced ozone loss in the stratosphere but are not currently included in atmospheric models due to a paucity of knowledge of the gas-phase chemistry and photochemistry of their anions and radicals. This project will develop and deploy advanced mass spectrometry and laser spectroscopy techniques to enable precision measurements of the reactions and photo-reactions of gas-phase iodide and bromide anions and their oxides. These state-of-the-art measurements of reaction kinetics and products will enable accurate chemical models that predict the impact of bromine and iodine chemistry on ozone levels and will inform future models for global climate.  


D/Professor Dmitri Golberg; Dr Konstantin Faershteyn; Dr Chao Zhang; Professor Nunzio Motta; Professor Dr Arkady Krasheninnikov

Novel two-dimensional nanomaterials – so called “Janus” transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) – are featured by breaking out-of-plane structural symmetry that enables prolongated exciton lifetime, strong spin-orbit coupling, large vertical piezoelectric polarization, and exceptional electromechanical properties. We plan to develop reliable and efficient synthetic routes for various “Janus” TMDs and their heterostructures, to investigate their physical properties, and find the ways of property tailoring. Deep understanding of structure-property relationships uncovered for these materials will pave the way for transferring discovered new features into cutting-edge technologies in electromechanical, optoelectronic, and catalytic fields.


Dr Yilin Gui; Professor Yuantong Gu; Professor R. Kerry Rowe

Compacted bentonite as favoured engineered barrier material is widely used in environmental geotechnics and its failure can incur huge societal, economic and environmental loss. The project aims to develop a novel surrogate model to identify the optimal controllable factors’ value to increase barrier’s integrity and reliability. It expects to advance the fundamental knowledge of bentonite thermo-hydro-mechanical properties through advanced molecular dynamics modelling, statistic learning and machine learning. It will deliver revolution design approach for bentonite used in engineered barriers in Australia and internationally. In the long-time it will bring huge economic, societal and environmental benefits to our community.        


Associate Professor Liangzhi Kou; Dr Ziyun Wang

Urea is a critical chemical for agriculture, the chemical industry and pollution control, yet current production methods are unsustainable. This project aims to design high-efficiency catalysts for electrochemical urea synthesis from theoretical studies. This project expects to generate new knowledge of chemistry and catalysis from new reaction mechanisms and materials. Expected outcomes include optimum catalysts with high conversion efficiency and reactant selectivity. The novel catalysts have the potential to deliver improved catalytic performance and controllable reaction reactants. This could deliver significant benefits to the crop production increase, cost reduction of chemical industry, and environmental pollution reduction.


Professor Ting Liao; Dr Juan Bai

The ultimate critical core for green hydrogen fuel generation is efficient and cost-effective catalysts. This project aims to design novel high entropy metal organic frameworks (HE-MOFs) using advanced high throughput computational screening integrated with experimental validation for sustainable hydrogen production. The outcome of this project will discover a new class of HE-MOFs materials with superior hydrogen generation efficiency, while also provide rational design principles for the exploration of high-efficient catalysts in sustainable fuel generation. The success of this project will help to achieve the zero-carbon target and contribute to the development of a sustainable society with low-cost and renewable energy supply.


Professor Ziqi Sun; Professor Pingan Song

This project aims to develop solid-state composite electrolytes combining exceptional flame retardancy and high ion conductivity for lithium-ion batteries. By leveraging merits of both polymer and ceramic electrolytes, the resultant composite electrolytes are expected to enhance battery safety by replacing existing flammable liquid counterparts. The project will advance the knowledge on the design and optimization of solid-state electrolytes, and the understanding on the fire-retarding and ionic conducting mechanisms of composite electrolytes. The outcomes of this project will contribute to the reduction of battery fires, the skills development in the Australian battery industry, and the advancement of a sustainable carbon-zero economy.   


Professor Hongxia Wang; Dr Jiaye Ye

Membrane is a critical component in zinc-iron redox flow battery (ZIRFB) which is considered a promising technology for large-scale energy storage in the future. This project aims to design and construct high performance membranes using low-cost polymers and nanostructured carbon materials through functionalization and innovative membrane structure design. The goal is to develop cost-effective membranes that possess high ion-selectivity and ion conductivity as well as stability that are required to fabricate high performance, long cycle lifetime ZIRFB. Successful achievement of the outcomes will enable cost-effective, reliable ZIRFB, placing Australia at the forefront of exploiting flow batteries based clean energy storage technologies.


The Centre for Materials Science is thrilled to see the initiation of these research projects and anticipates breakthroughs that will have lasting impacts on society. With the allocated funding, these projects are well-positioned to make significant strides in diverse fields.

We commend the researchers involved and eagerly await the positive outcomes and innovations that will undoubtedly arise from their efforts.