Our Research

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 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.

Beyond our basic scientific curiosity and the thrill of discovery, we consciously design materials and sustainable processes that impart a substantial benefit to society through the way they positively impact the environment, improve human health, increase our standard of living, increase productivity of our vital resources, enhance national security, or by simply promoting economic prosperity. Taking this fact into account, we have restructured our research to create four new interconnected society centred research themes:

  • Transport & Infrastructure
  • Energy & Environment
  • Electronics & Communications
  • Biomedical & Health

Underpinning this new thematic structure is our enabling platform, which is the necessary suite of skills and expertise that materials scientists and engineers need to possess to be able to create the materials of use to society. It consists of a deep understanding of fundamental phenomena, multi-scale computational methods, correlative structural analysis techniques, and the behaviour and properties of materials. The cornerstone of the platform is advanced manufacturing, which is the critical path for creating all those wonderful materials of significant benefit to a contemporary society. 

Our four Theme Leaders are responsible for coordinating the various research groups within their theme, and encouraging communication and collaboration between groups through to cross disciplinary collaboration between Themes and other Schools, and Research Centres, Hubs and Institutes both within UNSW and externally.

The close relationship between our four interconnected research themes and our enabling platform is illustrated in the diagram below.



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, orthopaedic implants, artificial organs, implantable devices, artificial skin and drug delivery.

Materials that play a critical role in the production, storage and conversion of energy, through to eco-materials, created by sustainable processes using either raw constituents or recycled waste, that impart an overall positive impact on the environment. These are integral materials in next generation fuel cells, solar devices, gas-powered generators, electric vehicles, water purification systems, recycled products.

Research Centres, Hubs and Institutes

The core aims of the SMaRT Centre are to develop novel research for sustainable materials and manufacturing processes, build industry partnerships to activate research for real world impact, and to disseminate green materials and manufacturing technologies that benefit industries, local communities, and enhance sustainable economic growth internationally.

FLEET addresses a grand challenge: reducing the energy used in information technology, which now accounts for 8% of the electricity use on Earth, and is doubling every 10 years.

The current, silicon-based technology will stop becoming more efficient in the next decade as Moore’s law comes to an end.

FLEET is the ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies

    The Materials and Manufacturing Futures Institute at UNSW Sydney is studying, building and transforming the future of materials innovation and advanced manufacturing — we are an interdisciplinary research hub delivering real-world social benefits and tangible solutions to emerging global problems.

    The Baosteel-Australia Joint Research and Development Centre is a world-first joint venture between Basoteel - one of the world’s largest steel companies, and four Australian universities. It seeks to create an enduring collaboration between Baosteel and four leading Australian universities, The University of Queensland, The University of New South Wales, Monash University and University of Wollongong, to conduct research and to provide innovative technologies in areas of interest to Baosteel.

    Since its inception by the Ministry of Science and Technology in 1988, the ‘China Torch Program’ has created over 150 high tech zones across China and more importantly become the engine room of innovation, urbanisation and economic growth.