The field of materials science and engineering offers unlimited possibilities for innovation and development. Australia is a country rich in minerals and materials science is a designated priority area for research and development. Advanced materials and improvements in sustainability can give manufacturing companies, in virtually any industry, the edge over their competitors.  

The School’s researchers are developing high-performance structural and functional materials, as well as designing new products and technologies that substantially benefit society. They achieve this by creating materials and sustainable processes that positively impact the environment, improve human health, increase our standard of living, enhance national security, increase productivity of vital resources, and promote economic prosperity.  

The School’s research programs are contained within four interconnecting themes of impact that are focused on benefiting society. Our enabling platform forms the foundation for designing and manufacturing advanced materials and products, utilising a deep understanding of fundamental phenomena, computational methods, correlative structural analysis techniques, and the behaviour and properties of materials. Advanced manufacturing is the cornerstone of this platform and is critical in creating materials that benefit contemporary society. For instance, we are developing new materials for use in renewable energy technologies and medical devices, among other applications.

Our four Theme Leaders are responsible for coordinating the research groups within their respective themes, encouraging communication and collaboration among the groups, as well as fostering cross-disciplinary collaboration among Themes, other Schools, Research Centres, Hubs and Institutes both within and outside of UNSW.

The relationship between our four research themes and the enabling platform is illustrated below.


Our research themes

Transport & infrastructure

Primarily structural materials used expressly for creating the means of transportation, to large-scale structures and infrastructure that dominate our daily lives. These include land, sea and aerospace vehicles to buildings, superstructures, machines and any other fixed or moving infrastructure.

Biomedical & health

Structural materials exhibiting specific functionality to largely functional materials that are designed to interact with biological systems for therapeutic and diagnostic medical purposes. These materials are used in dental devices, orthopedic implants, artificial organs, implantable devices, artificial skin and drug delivery.

Energy & environment

Materials that play a critical role in the production, storage and conversion of energy, through to eco-materials, created by sustainable processes. The materials have an overall positive impact on the environment. These are integral materials in next-generation fuel cells, solar devices, gas-power generators and recycled products.

Electronics & communications

Primarily functional materials with structural requirements used in electrical, electronics and microelectronic applications. These include components and devices that comprise integrated circuits, circuit boards and visual displays, to cables, wires and optical fibres for transferring power and information.