The material graphene (most widely explored carbon-based filler) was discovered in 2004 (Noble Prize awarded in 2010) it is the strongest material ever measured, and this is accompanied by a range of other extraordinary physical properties such as high thermal conductivity and high electrical conductivity. Graphene is seen as the material of the future, with the potential to revolutionize a wide range of industries from electronics to healthcare, and there is currently immense worldwide research activity in this area.  

In this project, novel polymer/graphene-based nanocomposites with superior physical properties will be prepared.  The addition of graphene as a component of polymer nanocomposites results in superior material properties it is a way of combining “the best of both worlds (polymer and graphene). While the initial focus would be on graphene, project will also explore other filler materials including one dimensional carbon nanotubes (CNT). Both graphene and CNT are highly suitable materials for sound absorption application however, their direct application has major limitation including they cannot be directly applied on a substrate (require high temperature conditions known as chemical vapour deposition). To circumvent these limitations, this project will develop polymeric nanocomposite paints using graphene and CNT as fillers with ease of coating on any substrate. Using different emulsion-based polymerisation methods, nanocomposite paints with innate ability to undergo film formation at ambient temperature will be developed, which will subsequently be coated on substrates and subjected to acoustic absorption measurements. This project will combine experiments and computational modelling in close collaboration with Prof Nicole Kessissoglou (School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, UNSW) to develop next generation paints for sounds absorption application (for example in defence application).

School

Chemical Engineering

Research Area

polymers, nanocomposites, coatings, sound absorption

The student will work in the well-equipped Cluster for Macromolecular Design (CAMD) laboratory alongside a large number of postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers, the vast majority of whom are also involved in related research. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of this research, student will also be exposed to experts researching in polymer chemistry (Prof Per Zetterlund) and sound absorption including Prof Nicole Kessissoglou (School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, UNSW). This will be an ideal and stimulating environment to learn what research is all about and simultaneously get exposed to applied research for an industrial application.

There is currently a great need to develop the materials of the future, and carbon-based fillers (e.g. graphene and CNT) are seen as playing a central role in this worldwide effort. The main novelty in the present project lies in the development of water-based polymer/filler nanocomposite paints for sound absorption application. The duality of specific polymer design and sound absorption potential of the filler is anticipated to lead the development of commercially viable products.

It is expected that the experimental work by the student will be included in an article for publication in a high impact international journal. Our research centre publishes a high number of papers per year, and small projects (such as Taste of Research and Hnrs projects) typically become part of larger research papers, thus contributing to the CV of the student (who would be listed as an author). Working on applied research with direct industry benefit will develop skills necessary for industry-based jobs in the future.