What we do

QUT’s Institute for Future Environments is investigating how new advanced materials like silicon, sensors and polymers can solve a wide range of problems for society and industry sectors.

Our research is designed to drive the following changes in the real world:

  • more efficient use of resources by global industry
  • more environmentally sustainable material life cycles
  • industry and the community sharing the benefits of new materials.

We are investigating how to:

  • enhance the performance of materials by changing their electrical, magnetic, thermal and energy-conversion properties
  • produce higher quality coatings and films to protect or deliver devices, sensors and surfaces
  • create new industries through materials design, demonstrating feasible industrial materials production and innovative processing and analytical techniques.

Capabilities

Nanomaterials

These materials often have additional functionalities such as photoactivity (eg. plasmonic nanoparticles, light emission, or photocatalytic properties), catalytic properties, or sensing behaviour. The methods of fabrication include physical vapour deposition, chemical vapour deposition, plasma processing and chemical synthesis. Applications of nanomaterials being investigated range from photocatalyic materials for remediation of environmental pollutants, to optical materials and device structures for light harvesting in photovoltaics and components for next generation computing devices. In this research we focus on the fabrication of nanoparticles and low dimensional materials, such quantum dot structures, nanowires, nanotubes and graphene materials, and assemblies of these types of materials.

Surface engineering

Surface engineering involves creating and analysing the surface of materials, focusing on the unique properties associated with a surface and the interaction of the surface with the surrounding environment. Our work in this area includes:

  • atomic scale analysis of the interaction of molecules and atoms on surfaces using ultra-high vacuum scanning tunnelling microscopy
  • creation of tailored surfaces to control the transmission of light or to create sensor devices
  • treatment of bulk material surfaces on macroscopic engineering components.

Molecular materials

Molecular materials have a range of applications in biomedicine and nanomedicine, in the treatment of environmental pollutants, and as sensors and molecular switches. Building from a strong base in organic and inorganic chemistry, QUT researchers are working on:

  • molecular synthesis of advanced molecular materials including profluorescent nitroxides, rotoxanes and polymeric materials
  • research in biomaterials and tissue replacement materials, supported by fundamental chemical synthesis of new inorganic and polymeric materials.

Computational materials science

Our researchers use high performance computing facilities, software and in-house computer source codes to characterise and analyse existing materials, design and optimise new materials.

Characterisation

Underpinning research in materials science and engineering is our outstanding capability in characterisation – the capability to analyse materials, including chemical composition and structure, physical morphology and response to physical stimuli, and electronic and optical structure and properties.

The Central Analytical Research Facility is operated by QUT’s Institute for Future Environments and boasts an outstanding range of materials characterisation facilities, including electron microscopy and mass spectrometry.

These powerful analytical platforms, combined with custom-designed laboratories and the unique expertise of the staff of scientists and technicians, underpins our ability to conduct world-class research in the molecular and materials sciences.