Melbourne Materials Institute

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A close up of a colourful mixed media artwork of flowers and gold paint

Dynamic Speckle Analysis can monitor the ‘activity’ of acrylic paints, paper materials, metal corrosion and canvas paintings aged in varying environments.

Materials are the key to a sustainable society. The Institute was created to harness advances in materials science to address complex, global challenges. Interdisciplinary research outcomes include discoveries in drug delivery systems, tissue regeneration, water desalination, and carbon capture and storage.

Research

The Melbourne Materials Institute (MMI) was established to research the design and development of new materials. These materials can increase the competitiveness of existing industries and nurture new enterprise.

The MMI worked on projects ranging from using non-invasive sensors for artwork conservation to high performance materials for hypersonics, digital display and aluminium smelting.

Seed funding supported collaborative research that addressed a broad range of challenges. This included antibacterial coatings for hospitals, limb salvage after bone cancer, and using diamond for targeted nerve cell growth.

Outcomes

The MMI achieved many successes over its five years of operation (2009 to 2014).

  • Supported more than 20 interdisciplinary research projects through MMI seed funding.
  • Established the Defence Science Institute with the Defence Science Technology Organisation. The Institute continues today, through research and commercial collaboration, and grants for defence-related projects.
  • Hosted international visiting academics and organisations. This included the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
  • Produced award winning projects and researchers. This included Eureka Prizes, an ACS Nano Lectureship Award, an ARC Fellowship, and Endeavour Executive Award.

Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology

Jointly secured funding for the $26M ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology (CBNS).

The CBNS supports the expertise and technology needed to develop next generation bio-responsive nanomaterials.

It has four focus areas:

  • delivery systems
  • imaging technologies
  • biosensors and diagnostics
  • vaccines

and undertakes research to better understand and control the interface of materials with biological systems.

Bionic Vision Australia

MMI researchers created the world’s first retinal-based bionic eyes as part of Bionic Vision Australia (BVA).

This work was supported by a $42 million ARC Research in Bionic Vision Science and Technology Initiative grant.

The technologies are now commercialised by Bionic Vision Technologies as the BVT Bionic Eye System.

The commercialisation of BVA’s bionic eye implant is an impressive example of the translation of publicly funded research to deliver significant social and economic benefits to the world.

Dr Ashworth navigated an obstacle course after receiving Australia’s first bionic eye, which was pioneered by Bionic Vision Australia.

Interdisciplinary focus

Working with the CSIRO, IBM, Defence Science Technology Organisation and the Australian Industry Group, the MMI focused on industry collaboration to drive real-world impact.

The MMI supported early career researchers through PhD scholarship programs, many in collaboration with external partners. The MMI Platform Support Program provided instrument specific expertise to researchers.

MMI focussed on five research themes:

  • Materials conservation
  • Materials for energy
  • Materials for medicine
  • Materials processing
  • Quantum and nanophotonic materials

In 2014, the MMI transitioned to the Materials Hallmark, with a focus on nano and meso-materials.