Materials sciences research strengths

Research that drives sustainability and improves manufacturing outcomes.

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UNSW Science is a global leader in materials sciences research. We develop advanced materials to improve sustainability and manufacturing outcomes in a wide range of industries, including transport, electronics and energy generation. 

Advanced manufacturing is the development and use of innovative technologies for the fabrication of products. Without advancements in manufacturing, we could never hope to increase efficiency or improve the sustainability of manufacturing processes that we take for granted. 

Advanced manufacturing has three research thrusts: 

  • precision and nano-processing technologies - covers a broad range of frontier processes 
  • multi-scale fabrication and advanced manufacturing technologies - develops new technologies for meso/micro scale machining and nano-surfacing 
  • sustainable manufacturing and life-cycle engineering - develops computational and heuristic methodologies enabling designers to consider the entire life cycle of a product from selecting eco-materials and the energy processes used in manufacturing these products. 
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UNSW engages in a diverse range of activities in condensed matter physics (CMP).

Research in CMP is focused on the electrical, optical, magnetic and thermal properties of advanced nanoscale materials, with potential applications in nanoelectronics, computing, memory elements, energy and biotechnology.  

The unique array of research facilities at UNSW includes cryogenic systems for measuring the motion of single electrons inside quantum devices operating at close to the absolute zero of temperature, full clean-room facilities, scanning tunnelling microscopes that can be used to make electronic devices at the atomic scale, advanced laser and raman spectroscopy laboratories and high-performance electron microscopes.  

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Functional materials are found across all classes of materials, including ceramics, metals, polymers and organic molecules. They’re used in electromagnetic applications and in materials for energy applications, such as electro- and magneto- caloric materials for energy storage or solar harvesting functions. 

Research into functional materials is a major strength of the School of Materials Science & Engineering. We have several high-performing research groups active in this field, including nanoparticles, catalysts, energy materials, multiferroics, oxide epitaxy, photovoltaic materials, magnetic materials and electrochromic materials.

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Future Low Energy Electronics Technologies (FLEET) is developing a new generation of ultra-low energy electronics to address the energy consumption used in information technology. The centre connects UNSW researchers from the School of Physics, the School of Materials Science & Engineering and the School of Chemical Engineering with six other Australian universities and 18 other Australian and international science centres.

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A working large-scale quantum computer has the potential to transform the information economy and create the industries of the future, solving in hours or minutes problems that would take conventional computers – even supercomputers – centuries.

The Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T) leads the world in the race to build a quantum computer in silicon and undertakes world-class research in optical quantum computing and quantum information technologies.

The centre is headquartered at UNSW Sydney and comprises more than 200 researchers from seven of Australia’s leading research institutions and 25 formal international partners, working together to create a universal quantum computer and secure communication systems.

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