Professor Thomas Maschmeyer is working to integrate new battery and solar cell technologies into the walls and roofs of new houses, and to transform the somewhat ‘black art’ of catalysis—the process that cracks crude oil into useful fuels, oils and chemicals at every refinery. He has already helped to create over 200 new jobs with four spin-out companies.
The first microscopes gave humans the ability peer deep into the microscopic world, allowing us to see cells and microbes in unprecedented detail. Using the latest electron microscopes we are now able to see detail down to single atoms.
In fact, materials scientists can detect impurities in their latest compounds, atom by atom, using powerful electron microscopes aided by sophisticated modelling of what happens when the electron beam hits the material.
Dr Adrian D’Alfonso and a team of theoretical physicists at the University of Melbourne have developed these models and they are already helping groups around the world look at and understand nanomaterials in a way they haven’t been able to before.
Two thousand years ago, Roman glass blowers used gold nanocrystals to create vases with brilliant colours ranging from red to purple. Today, gold nanocrystals are being used as catalysts in chemical reactions and may even become high-density data storage devices.
Gold nanocrystals aren’t gold in colour. They change colour as their size and shape change.