Tag Archives: USYD

Graphene

Graphene innovation lowers cost of production

Graphene is a carbon material that is one atom thick.

Its thin composition and high conductivity means it is used in applications ranging from miniaturised electronics to biomedical devices.

These properties also enable thinner wire connections; providing extensive benefits for computers, solar panels, batteries, sensors and other devices.

Until now, the high cost of graphene production has been the major roadblock in its commercialisation.

Previously, graphene was grown in a highly-controlled environment with explosive compressed gases, requiring long hours of operation at high temperatures and extensive vacuum processing.

CSIRO scientists have developed a novel “GraphAir” technology which eliminates the need for such a highly-controlled environment.

The technology grows graphene film in ambient air with a natural precursor, making its production faster and simpler.

“This ambient-air process for graphene fabrication is fast, simple, safe, potentially scalable, and integration-friendly,” says CSIRO scientist Dr Zhao Jun Han, co-author of the paper published in Nature Communications.

“Our unique technology is expected to reduce the cost of graphene production and improve the uptake in new applications.”

GraphAir transforms soybean oil – a renewable, natural material – into graphene films in a single step.

“Our GraphAir technology results in good and transformable graphene properties, comparable to graphene made by conventional methods,” says CSIRO scientist and co-author of the study Dr Dong Han Seo.

With heat, soybean oil breaks down into a range of carbon building units that are essential for the synthesis of graphene.

The team also transformed other types of renewable and even waste oil, such as those leftover from barbecues or cooking, into graphene films.

“We can now recycle waste oils that would have otherwise been discarded and transform them into something useful,” Seo says.

The potential applications of graphene include water filtration and purification, renewable energy, sensors, personalised healthcare and medicine, to name a few.

Graphene has excellent electronic, mechanical, thermal and optical properties as well.

Its uses range from improving battery performance in energy devices, to cheaper solar panels.

CSIRO are looking to partner with industry to find new uses for graphene.

Researchers from The University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney and The Queensland University of Technology also contributed to this work.

This article was first published by CSIRO on 31 Jan 2017. Read the original article here.

horticulture innovation

Horticulture Innovation Centre to increase farm efficiencies

Featured image above: Horticulture Innovation Australia’s CEO John Lloyd with Assistant Minister for Agriculture Anne Ruston and University of Sydney’s Vice Chancellor Michael Spence. Credit:Hort Innovation and USYD

Australia has opened its first horticultural robotics learning and development hub, signifying the industry’s determination to adopt on-farm technologies, ramp up export capacity and develop future leaders in non-traditional areas of horticulture.

Located at the University of Sydney, the Horticulture Innovation Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems (HICRIS) will initially host a $10 million commitment to projects in robotics and autonomous technology that aim to increase farm efficiencies.

Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation) chief executive John Lloyd says the new centre will help the horticulture industry minimise labour costs and prepare for the future.

“Never before have we seen this level of innovation in the horticulture industry. Through working with the University of Sydney, we have been able to develop technology that can detect foreign matter, robots with that can map tree-crop architecture, and ground-breaking autonomous weed identification and eradication capabilities,” he says.

“Through the Horticulture Innovation Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems, this research will be further expanded to investigate capabilities such as automated crop forecasting to predict the best time to harvest and ground penetrating radar sensors to measure things like soil water content.

horticulture innovation
RIPPA trailing precision spray and foreign object identification technology on a farm in Gatton QLD. Credit: Hort Innovation and USYD

“Importantly through our latest work, which is funded through vegetable industry levies and funds from the Australian Government, we are looking at identifying commercial partnerships with the aim of making these new technologies accessible to growers. The development of horticulture technology standards and policies to meet regulations will also be a focus.

“This centre will give current and emerging generations of growers and agri-scientists the resources they need to develop their ideas for the benefit of the industry, and all Australians.”

Lloyd says Horticulture Innovation Australia is delighted to be working with the University of Sydney to achieve results for Australian growers.

This information on the new Horticulture Innovation Centre was first shared by Horticulture Innovation Australia on 6 October 2016. Read the original media release here.

gender equality in research

Gender equality in research and physics

The underrepresentation of women in the STEM research sector in Australia is a significant issue. I acknowledge, with some degree of shame, that my own core discipline of physics is one of the worst offenders.

Data from the ARC’s latest Excellence in Research for Australia round indicates that women represent only 16% of academic levels A–E in the physics discipline. As with all other Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) disciplines, the fraction is even worse in higher levels — only 10% of physics professorial staff are women.

While this fraction is probably representative of physics around the world, there are some interesting exceptions. For example, in France, the overall rate of women in physics is much stronger (around 26%). As a practitioner of nuclear physics, I was always struck by the much stronger presence of women in that sub-discipline in France. Of course, France has the presence of Marie Curie, who was awarded two Nobel prizes for her contributions to physics and chemistry. Clearly role models matter!

It is with this in mind that at least two dedicated fellowships for exceptional women researchers are awarded under the ARC’s Australian Laureate Fellowships scheme each round. One of these, the Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship, is awarded to a female researcher in science and technology. The award is won on the basis of merit, but these researchers are given extra funding to assist them to undertake an ambassadorial role to promote women in research and to mentor early career researchers.


“Australia’s research institutions need to take joint responsibility for the progression and retention of women in the research workforce.”


Australian Laureate Fellows, such as Professors Veena Sahajwalla and Michelle Simmons from UNSW Australia and Professor Nalini Joshi from The University of Sydney, are tremendous role models and are actively encouraging and supporting women to undertake careers in STEM. A fantastic example of this is the Science 50:50 programme, led by Sahajawalla, which aims to inspire Australian girls and young women to pursue degrees and careers in science and technology.

This is a start, but it is not enough. I have been determined to strengthen the ARC’s commitment to gender equality in research through a number of initiatives. We have achieved relatively even success rates for women and men across the schemes of the National Competitive Grants Programme, but we still need significant improvements in the participation rate of women in research.

While the ARC can promote and monitor gender equality in research, Australia’s research institutions need to take joint responsibility for the progression and retention of women in the research workforce. That is why it has been so encouraging to see the research sector’s very strong response to the Science and Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot. This is surely a pivotal step forward, and one we should all support to ensure it succeeds.

Professor Aidan Byrne

Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Research Council (ARC)

Read next: Macquarie University’s Professor Barbara Messerle highlights the need to celebrate cross-disciplinary role models who have paved non-linear careers from foundations in STEM.

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