Nanotechnology Research Lab in Australia - dummies

Nanotechnology Research Lab in Australia

By Earl Boysen, Nancy C. Muir, Desiree Dudley, Christine Peterson

The Australian Research Council has established the ARC Centre of Excellence for Functional Nanomaterials (ARCCFN) to promote and encourage nanotechnology research on the Australian continent. With headquarters at The University of Queensland, the lab has “nodes” at the University of New South Wales, Deakin University, and the University of Western Sydney.


Starting with a grant in 2003, ARCCFN is part of the ARC centers of excellence initiative, which supports applied research and training in the sciences through a national competition. The primary focus of this group is “the novel synthesis, characterization, and applications of functional nanomaterials such as nanoparticles, nanotubes, thin films, and nanoporous and nanocomposite materials.”

They have a special focus on nanotechnology efforts that will have a serious effect on industries with a focus that is most important to the Australian economy, such as microelectronics, manufacturing, energy, medicine, and the environment.

The Centre runs 48 projects that include the following core programs:

  • Fundamental synthesis techniques

  • Computational nanomaterials science

  • Clean energy production and utilization

  • Environmental technologies

  • Healthcare

Some of the developments of the Centre have included the following:

  • A more cost-effective water purification method: This method is used to clean up industrial waste in wastewater streams that have low levels of organic pollutants so the water can be reused. Methods that use standard energy sources are expensive, but this method is more cost effective because it uses a photocatalyst made with titanium dioxide nanomaterials that help break down organic pollutants using sunlight as the power source.

  • Improved targeted drug delivery: This method uses hybrid nanoparticles coated with a porous silica that enables them to be targeted for delivery to specific cells. According to this project’s leader, Dr. Xu, “to be an effective delivery system, the nanoparticle must be a suitable carrier and readily transported through various biological barriers to the site of action.”