University of Newcastle receives over $1.3 million in research funding

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Researchers at the University of Newcastle have been awarded $1,329,356 in funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC).

One team has been awarded ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) funding to further advance the field of scanning helium microscopy, which was developed at the University of Newcastle.

Teams from the Global Innovative Centre for Advanced Nanomaterials, in collaboration with their industry partners (Andromeda Metals and Minotaur Exploration), are receiving two research grants under the Linkage Projects scheme for 2021 – one which seeks to advance hydrogen storage, while the other aims to reshape the use of nitrogen in Australia.

2021 ARC Linkage Projects Round 1

Investigator team

Title and summary

Awarded funding

A/Prof Jiabao Yi; A/Prof Zongyou Yin; Dr Antonio Belperio; Mr James Marsh; Dr Kavitha Ramadass

Nanoscale heating towards high efficient nitrogen reduction

This project aims to develop nanoscale heating technique using AC magnetic field for efficient synthesis of ammonia, widely used for fertiliser and having potential for hydrogen storage. The expected outcome is the creation of low-cost catalysts having high selectivity and formation rate for ammonia production. This unique technology has the potential to replace current ammonia production based on Haber-Bosch process, which consumes 2% of world energy and contributes 3% of overall CO2 emission.


Prof Nanthi Bolan; Prof Ajayan Vinu; A/Prof Ajay Karakoti; Dr Kavitha Ramadass; Prof Richard Bell; Dr Lukas Van Zwieten; Dr Ehsan Tavakkoli; Mr James Marsh; Dr Antonio Belperio

Engineered clay-polysaccharide composites for efficient nutrient delivery

Nitrogen (N) nutrient use efficiency of most arable crops in Australian soils is low, leading to excessive application of this nutrient. The low N use efficiency is attributed to its loss through leaching and gaseous emission, which contributes to both economic burden of the farming community and also results in environmental degradation. This project aims to work with clay industries to develop fertiliser products with controlled release characteristics to increase N use efficiency and farm productivity. It will also create new market opportunities for the mining industry for the use of clays and create novel materials for delivery of nutrients and moisture for the agrochemical industry.



Investigator team

Title and summary

Awarded funding

Prof Paul Dastoor; Prof Roger Smith; Prof Alan Brichta; Prof Christopher Dayas; A/Prof Ian Grainge; Prof Jamie Quinton; Prof Elizabeth Dinsdale; Prof Peter Cumpson; Ms Jane Evans

BioSHeM: A High-Resolution Imaging and Spectroscopic Helium Atom Microscope

This project will build Australia’s first scanning helium microscope (SHeM) instrument designed for imaging in the advanced materials, biological and medical sciences. While existing microscopes utilising energetic beams of particles or light provide an excellent means of viewing structures down to the nanoscale, delicate materials are easily damaged under exposure to such beams. The new technique of scanning helium microscopy, which was developed at the University of Newcastle, images structures completely non-destructively by using an extremely low-energy beam of neutral helium atoms to probe sample surfaces. This new instrument will exploit the unique capabilities of the SHeM technique to probe the new science that can be obtained from non-destructive imaging of samples in-situ; including exploring the sub-surface contrast that can be obtained from inelastic scattering processes.

Leveraging the NSW Smart Sensing Network (NSSN) as a partner on this project, the team aims to build a new user base for the SHeM and increase engagement with industry.


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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.