Research themes

At the forefront of developing state-of-the-art and cost-effective technologies, GICAN is developing advanced nanostructures for various applications across the extensive energy, environment and health sectors.

The nanomaterials we develop include 0D, 1D, 2D and 3D nanostructures that are both with and without ordered porosity along with tunable electronic, catalytic, sensing, magnetic and textural properties.

These materials can be used in various applications including carbon capture and conversion, H2 generation, catalysis, energy generation, conversion and energy storage devices such as supercapacitor, battery, solar cells, along with toxic molecule sensing, wastewater treatment and soil remediation, targeted drug delivery and cancer research.

We are working in collaboration with leading researchers across the globe along with renowned universities, institutions and key industry players to solve some of the greatest challenges in the following research areas.

Advanced materials

Mesoporous materials: multi-dimensional (0D, 1D and 2D) advanced functional mesoporous materials

What are they?

  • Materials constructed from mesoporous nitrides including carbon nitrides with different stoichiometry and variable nitrogen content

Characteristics and features

  • The materials comprise different metal compositions, sizes and shapes
  • They feature halloysite templated porous carbon materials and a host of new porous hybrid nanomaterials
  • They can be characterised using an array of the Centre’s highly sophisticated instruments and facilities which are able to deliver experimental findings to substantiate by theoretical calculations and simulations

Applications

  • Energy generation and storage devices: batteries, supercapacitors, fuel cells, carbon capture and conversion
  • Biomedical applications: drug delivery, nanomedicine and cancer treatments

Low dimensional hybrid materials: 0D, 1D, 2D and 3D nano-hybrid materials

What are they?

  • Nano-hybrid materials with advanced functionality that can expand the scope of their application in energy and environment research

Characteristics and features

  • These nanomaterials are often less than 10nm, which is sufficient to create novel physiochemical properties of nano-hybrid materials from a synergistic coupling between the components

Applications

  • Energy and environment

Energy

Energy generation and heterogeneous catalysis

What are they?

  • New heterogeneous catalysts will have industrial application when utilised in conjunction with chemical reactionary processes
  • They can be used in the development of photocatalysts that can support efficient energy generation of H2 by utilising a combination of water and sunlight as the only external inputs

Characteristics and features

  • The Centre has developed a technique that involves applying novel metal and metal oxide mesoporous carbon as a nitride-based catalyst for the synthesis of fine chemicals and CO2 utilisation
  • We are undertaking solid catalysis research using zeolites such as hydro-treatment from long-chain alkenes for application in the petro-refining and petrochemical industries
  • The principles of this solid catalysis can be applied to the environmentally benign synthesis of fine-chemical and pharmaceutical compounds
  • We analyse and quantify the new products using advanced gas chromatographs, mass spectrometers and HPLC facilities

Applications

  • Industrial: petro-refining and petrochemical industries
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Energy generation of H2

The process of photocatalytic H2 generation

What is it?

  • GICAN researchers have developed a range of novel functionalised photocatalysts to investigate the intricate processes involved in photocatalytic H2 generation

Characteristics and features

  • GICAN’s independently operated and custom designed water and CO2 splitting systems provide a closed-loop analysis of evolved gaseous reaction products
  • Following detailed analysis, researchers design novel photocatalysts in conjunction with in-depth theoretical calculations and experimental data to substantiate theoretical predictions

Inexpensive energy storage devices

What are they?

  • GICAN researchers are investigating how electrode materials can be manufactured using low cost, readily available raw materials such as waste biomass, discarded dairy products and soft drinks to develop sustainable energy storage devices

Characteristics and features

  • We design electrode materials and analyse their performance using our facilities including a four glove argon glovebox, 100 channel battery cycler, potentiostats and a fuel cell testing system

Application

  • Energy storage devices: next generation secondary batteries, supercapacitor and fuel cell devices

Environment

Nanomaterial technologies for use in environmental applications

What are they?

  • New technologies that have the potential to improve carbon capture and storage processes, soil remediation and wastewater treatment
  • A new nano-based fertiliser delivery system to improve soil productivity and improve overall agricultural yield
  • Robust and economically sustainable technologies to assist the discovery of solutions to the impacts of global warming caused by greenhouse gases, water contamination and soil degradation

Characteristics and features

  • GICAN is producing ultra-high surface area advanced functional biocarbons that have application in adsorbent material for pre- and post-combustion CO2 capture, soil decontamination and wastewater treatment

Application

  • Remediate the effects of climate change

Healthcare

Drug delivery systems using novel multifunctional nanomaterials

What are they?

  • Multifunctional nanomaterials can be used in imaging processes associated with various cancer detection and treatment techniques

Characteristics and features

  • The technology utilises functionalised core-shell silica nanoparticles to:
    • deliver drug treatments to precise locations
    • act as a tool for early screening and identification of potential cancer cells
  • GICAN researchers can undertake in-vivo and in-vitro studies and grow stem cells in a controlled environment

Application

  • Individualised treatment that targets cancer cells and minimises the impact on healthy cells

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.