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Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler

Associate Professor

School of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering)

Foam and function

Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler is driving the development of new-generation cellular materials that are light, strong and multi-functional.

Thomas Fiedler with an experiment

To the untrained eye, the metal sample blocks in Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler's office look almost fragile, with their unusual, porous configurations. But looks can be deceiving, and these metallic structures are, in fact, incredibly strong and versatile materials with potential for widespread industrial application.

The blocks are examples of what are known as cellular materials, which are manufactured by introducing a foaming solution to molten metal that gives the end product an aerated appearance. The materials produced from this and similar techniques are both strong and lightweight, have thermal-insulating and acoustic-dampening properties and can absorb high amounts of energy from an impact – all of which makes them prospectively well-suited to purposes such as car and aircraft manufacturing.

German-born Fiedler has been involved in research and development of cellular materials at the University of Newcastle since moving to the city in 2008 to take up a postdoctoral appointment within the Centre for Geotechnical and Materials Modelling. "This is still largely a development area in terms of research but these materials have great potential and some are already being used in commercial applications, such as luxury motor vehicles," Fiedler explains. "Scientists in the field are working on improving the reliability and consistency of the materials and experimenting with ways to produce them more cost-effectively."

Fiedler is investigating another use for metal foams as part of an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship project developing alternative cooling systems for buildings, electronic devices and other applications. The project centres on the design of next-generation 'heat sinks', materials that can be used to absorb heat in place of electrically powered devices. To illustrate their use, Fiedler uses the example of laptop computers, which rely mostly on small, built-in cooling devices to ensure they do not overheat.

"A built-in fan will cool the computer down, but you then need extra power to run the fan, and it adds size to the device," he points out. "A heat sink will absorb and store that heat without adding substantial bulk or requiring additional energy."

Paraffin is recognised as an effective heat sink because it is a phase-change material (PCM) capable of absorbing a substantial amount of heat at the point at which it transforms from solid to liquid form. However, it has poor thermal conductivity, so Fiedler is blending paraffins with cellular metals – such as copper foams – to create prototype composite materials that work more effectively as heat sinks by combining the optimum properties of both.

"A typical application could be solar heating and cooling, where you could use the material to absorb thermal energy during the day then release that heat later to warm buildings or water systems," Fiedler explains. "These composite heat sinks provide a largely untapped solution for energy-efficient temperature control and emission-free heating."

Fiedler's research encompasses both experimental work and the development of high-level computational techniques for modelling new material combinations. He uses the Lattice Monte Carlo Method, a powerful and computationally demanding algorithmic modelling tool. Fiedler has forged collaborations with research groups in Malaysia, Portugal, Slovenia, Brazil and Germany and his work in the development of cellular metals has attracted interest from prospective commercial partners.

"The University of Newcastle produces first-class research in this field," he says. "We have a lot of expertise in our group, access to powerful computers, and collaborations with influential partners around the world – all of which contributes to our strong international reputation."

A new body of work

The development of biologically friendly surgical implants might seem a long way removed from the design of composite metals used in industrial applications, but Dr Thomas Fielder's wide-ranging research spans both fields.

"The connection is that they are both cellular materials," he outlines. "The biomaterials I am working on have a similar structure to the metallic foams I study so I am able to apply my skills in manipulating the properties of cellular materials."

Fiedler is involved in a collaboration with Professor Aldo Boccaccini, a leading biomaterials researcher from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, in Germany. Together they are developing surgical implants and devices (scaffolds) that help repair defects in tissue, skin and bones, then dissolve in the body, negating the need for follow-up surgery to remove them.

"Biomaterials have been used for some time, but we are developing third-generation designs, which are both bioactive and able to slowly dissolve," Fiedler states. "I am looking at the construction of the materials, investigating the mechanical properties and experimenting with things like titanium reinforcement to make them stronger."

The collaboration represents a new direction for Fiedler's research and one that he believes perfectly illustrates the vast potential of cellular materials in seemingly disparate disciplines. "Ironically," he adds, "the construction of cellular metals is inspired by bone structure, so applying my research back to the body is, in a way, completing the circle."

Visit the Centre for Geotechnical and Materials Modelling website

Thomas Fiedler with an experiment

Foam and function

The Centre develops new models and innovative computational methods for predicting the behaviour of geomaterials, metals and composites.

Read more

Career Summary

Biography

Dr Fiedler completed his Master studies in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (Germany) in 2004. He continued his academic career at the University of Aveiro (Portugal). After completing his PhD in December 2007 Dr Fiedler commenced working as a Postdoc at the University of Newcastle. In 2010 Dr Fiedler was awarded and APD Fellowship by the ARC.

Research Expertise

Dr Thomas Fiedler's Research Expertise are: Cellular Materials (Metals and Ceramics) and Composite Materials, Experimental and Computational Mechanics, Finite Element Methods, Lattice Monte Carlo Methods, and mechanical and thermal material testing.

Teaching

MECH2700 Thermofluids

MECH3760 Renewable Energy Converson

Program Convenor for Mechanical Engineering

Collaborations

Academic partners in Australia, Europe (Germany, Slovenia, Spain, Croatia, Portugal), Brazil and Japan.

Industrial partners in Germany, Switzerland and Australia


Qualifications

  • PhD (Mechanical Engineering), Universidade de Aveiro - Portugal

Keywords

  • Cellular Materials
  • Composite Materials
  • Computational Mechanics
  • Experimental Mechanics
  • Finite Element Methods
  • Impact Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Renewable Energy Conversion
  • Thermal Analysis
  • Thermal Storage

Languages

  • English (Fluent)
  • Portuguese (Working)
  • German (Mother)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
091307 Numerical Modelling and Mechanical Characterisation 40
091202 Composite and Hybrid Materials 30
090301 Biomaterials 30

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Associate Professor University of Newcastle
School of Engineering
Australia

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/09/2012 - 1/09/2013 Fellow

UoN Research Fellowship

University of Newcastle
School of Engineering
Australia
1/01/2012 - 1/12/2014 Fellow

UoN Research Fellowship

University of Newcastle
School of Engineering
Australia
1/01/2010 - 1/06/2013 Fellowship - APD University of Newcastle
School of Engineering
Australia

Awards

Award

Year Award
2013 Pro-Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research Performance
The University of Newcastle
2012 Pro-Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research Publications
The University of Newcastle
2010 Pro-Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research Publications
The University of Newcastle
2009 Vice Chancellor's Award for Researcher of the Year 2009
The University of Newcastle

Research Award

Year Award
2006 'Investigation of Damage Evolution in Metallic Foams'
Ministry of Education and Science - Governo de Portugal

Invitations

Keynote Speaker

Year Title / Rationale
2013 PRICM-8

Speaker

Year Title / Rationale
2015 2015 Theo Murphy, Australian Academy of Science, Materials for the 21st Century: From design to application
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 22
Total funding $2,187,921

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20172 grants / $357,865

Investigation of Mass Transport in High Entropy Alloys$309,000

Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Funding body ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project Team Professor Graeme Murch, Professor Irina Belova, Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler, Doctor Elena Levchenko, Professor Yongho Sohn, Professor Zi-Kui Liu
Scheme Discovery Projects
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2020
GNo G1600045
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON Y

Evaluation of the effect of micro and nanoparticulate dust exposure in the mining industry on human health and the development of an early detection system$48,865

Funding body: Varley Group

Funding body Varley Group
Project Team Doctor Yolanda Surjan, Doctor Susan Hua, Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler, Doctor Kenneth Williams
Scheme Post Graduate Scholarship
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2020
GNo G1701315
Type Of Funding Grant - Aust Non Government
Category 3AFG
UON Y

20161 grants / $18,460

Accelerated Corrosion Trials of Metal Foams$18,460

Funding body: Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment - The University of Newcastle (Australia)

Funding body Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment - The University of Newcastle (Australia)
Project Team

Dr. Igor Chaves, Ass. Prof. Thomas Fiedler

Scheme FEBE Strategic Pilot Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2016
Funding Finish 2016
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

20153 grants / $444,721

High Energy Density - High Delivery Rate Thermal Energy Storage$346,946

Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Funding body ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project Team Professor Erich Kisi, Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler
Scheme Discovery Projects
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2017
GNo G1400112
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON Y

High Performance Roadside Safety Barrier (HPRSB)$96,775

Funding body: Transurban Limited

Funding body Transurban Limited
Project Team Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler
Scheme Innovation Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2016
GNo G1500729
Type Of Funding Grant - Aust Non Government
Category 3AFG
UON Y

17th IAHR International Conference on Cooling Tower and Heath Exchanger, Gold Coast Australia, 7-11 September 2015$1,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Engineering & Built Environment

Funding body University of Newcastle - Faculty of Engineering & Built Environment
Project Team Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2015
GNo G1501014
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20142 grants / $21,500

High Energy Density - High Delivery Rate Thermal Energy Storage$20,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Professor Erich Kisi, Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler, Doctor Heber Sugo
Scheme Near Miss Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2014
Funding Finish 2014
GNo G1301384
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

Heat Transfer 2014, A Coruna Spain, 2-4 July 2014$1,500

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Engineering & Built Environment

Funding body University of Newcastle - Faculty of Engineering & Built Environment
Project Team Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2014
Funding Finish 2014
GNo G1400726
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20131 grants / $324,928

Structural design of third generation biomaterials$324,928

Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Funding body ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project Team Professor Graeme Murch, Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler, Professor Aldo Boccaccini
Scheme Discovery Projects
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2013
Funding Finish 2015
GNo G1200061
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON Y

20124 grants / $270,116

2011 Research Fellowship - PRCGMM$252,614

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler
Scheme Research Fellowship
Role Lead
Funding Start 2012
Funding Finish 2014
GNo G1200790
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

Computer Aided Design of Advanced Lightweight Materials (CADALM)$15,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler
Scheme Fellowship Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2012
Funding Finish 2012
GNo G1201005
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

Australian Biomedical Engineering Conference 2012, The Greek Club, Brisbane, Queensland, 16 - 19 September 2012$1,302

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Engineering & Built Environment

Funding body University of Newcastle - Faculty of Engineering & Built Environment
Project Team Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2012
Funding Finish 2012
GNo G1200793
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

Physical Analysis of Corevo Aluminum Foam$1,200

Funding body: Constellium Innovation Cells

Funding body Constellium Innovation Cells
Project Team Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler
Scheme Research Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2012
Funding Finish 2012
GNo G1201196
Type Of Funding International - Non Competitive
Category 3IFB
UON Y

20111 grants / $1,500

DSL 2011, Portugal, 26 - 30 June 2011$1,500

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Engineering & Built Environment

Funding body University of Newcastle - Faculty of Engineering & Built Environment
Project Team Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2011
Funding Finish 2011
GNo G1100262
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20104 grants / $682,000

Design of high performance heat sink composites$340,000

Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Funding body ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project Team Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler
Scheme Discovery Projects
Role Lead
Funding Start 2010
Funding Finish 2012
GNo G0189979
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON Y

Design of reactive foils for joining amorphous alloys$330,000

Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Funding body ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project Team Professor Irina Belova, Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler, Doctor Elena Levchenko, Dr Daniel Riley, Professor Andreas Oechsner
Scheme Discovery Projects
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2010
Funding Finish 2014
GNo G0189975
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON Y

2009 VCAward for Research Excellence$10,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler
Scheme Award for Research Excellence
Role Lead
Funding Start 2010
Funding Finish 2010
GNo G1000405
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

2009 FEBE Award for Research Excellence$2,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler
Scheme Award for Research Excellence
Role Lead
Funding Start 2010
Funding Finish 2010
GNo G1000400
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20093 grants / $65,131

2009 Near Miss Grant for DP0985268, DP0984793, DP0985799$60,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Professor Irina Belova, Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler, Professor Andreas Oechsner, Professor Graeme Murch, Doctor Elena Levchenko, Doctor Alexander Evteev
Scheme Near Miss Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2009
Funding Finish 2009
GNo G0189820
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

Computed tomography-based finite element analysis of the thermal and mechanical properties of advanced cellular metals$3,931

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler
Scheme Early Career Researcher Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2009
Funding Finish 2009
GNo G0189777
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

DSL-2009, Rome, 24-26 June 2009$1,200

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Engineering & Built Environment

Funding body University of Newcastle - Faculty of Engineering & Built Environment
Project Team Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2009
Funding Finish 2009
GNo G0190260
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20081 grants / $1,700

The 4th WSEAS International Conference on Applied and Theoretical Mechanics (Mechanics 08), Cairo, Egypt, 29 - 31 Dec 08$1,700

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2008
Funding Finish 2008
GNo G0189733
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed4
Current4

Total current UON EFTSL

PhD1.7

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2017 PhD Development of a Feasible Application of Miscibility Gap Alloy Technology for Concentrated Solar Power PhD (Mechanical Engineering), Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2017 PhD Manufacturing and Analysis of Functionally Graded Perlite-Aluminum Syntactic Foam PhD (Mechanical Engineering), Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2015 PhD Manufacturing and Characterization of Metallic Syntactic Foams with Various Combinations of Filler and Matrix Materials PhD (Mechanical Engineering), Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2015 PhD Large Scale Manufacturing of Perlite-Metal Syntactic Foam (P-MSF) PhD (Mechanical Engineering), Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor

Past Supervision

Year Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2017 PhD Elastic and Mechanical Properties of Expanded Perlite and Perlite/Epoxy Foams PhD (Mechanical Engineering), Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2016 PhD The Fabrication Processes and Mechanical Properties of Advanced Metallic Syntactic Foams PhD (Mechanical Engineering), Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2015 PhD Characterisation of Advanced Porous Materials PhD (Mechanical Engineering), Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2012 PhD Numerical and Experimental Analysis of Cellular Materials PhD (Mechanical Engineering), Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
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News

The new material set to improve road safety

September 13, 2017

Engineers from the University of Newcastle have developed a new material which has the potential to change the future of road safety.

Excellence in Innovation awarded

November 22, 2016

Newcastle Innovation hosted their annual Awards ceremony on Friday 18 November at Merewether Surfhouse.

Australian Research Council (ARC)

ARC Discovery Project funding success

November 19, 2014

Professor Erich Kisi and Dr Thomas Fiedler have been awarded more than $355,000 in ARC Discovery Project funding commencing in 2015 for their research project High Energy Density - High Delivery Rate Thermal Energy Storage.

Associate Professor Thomas Fiedler

Position

Associate Professor
Centre for Mass and Thermal Transport in Engineering Materials
School of Engineering
Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment

Focus area

Mechanical Engineering

Contact Details

Email thomas.fiedler@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4921 6188
Fax (02) 4921 6946
Link UoN Blogs

Office

Room ES414
Building ES
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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