IFM researchers share in $5.5m for Deakin in 2024 ARC Discovery Project grant round

Deakin University researchers will share in more than $5.5 million in funding for 13 exciting new research projects as part of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Projects scheme 2024 funding round.

Institute for Frontier Materials researchers were among Deakin’s successful world-class researchers who will lead studies into issues such as outlaw motorcycle gangs, alcohol and drug addiction and next generation battery technology.

Discovery Projects, a flagship scheme for fundamental research and the largest scheme under the ARC National Competitive Grants Program, provide funding of between $30,000 and $500,000 each year for up to five consecutive years.

The funding can be used to support research assistants and technicians, access to research and infrastructure facilities, technical workshop services, essential field research, equipment and consumables, and the publication and dissemination of findings.

Research funded through the ARC delivers excellent outcomes for the nation, with every $1 of research that the ARC funds generating $3.32 in economic output back into the Australian community.

Deakin researchers are also named as a collaborating party on another seven successful Discovery Projects led by other universities.

IFM’s successful recipients:

Professor Jenny Pringle
Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM)

Zwitterion-based electrolytes for advanced energy technologies

Lithium-ion batteries are the most widely used in Australia. However, the electrolytes inside them are flammable and unsafe, and are incompatible with new electrodes being developed to make batteries more powerful. Using sodium instead of lithium in batteries could provide an incredible alternative, as sodium is cheap and abundant, but this transition requires new electrolytes.

This project aims to develop a new class of electrolyte that is safer, non-flammable and designed to function in high-energy batteries made with sodium or lithium. The project will build our understanding of how to improve movement of charge through electrolyte materials to enhance battery performance. Findings will be shared with emerging battery industries and those developing new energy storage technologies.

Professor Ying (Ian) Chen
Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM)

Unlocking exceptional properties through pressure-induced phase transitions
The challenge of dissipating heat is a major hindrance in the development of miniaturised electronics. To overcome this issue, there is demand for advanced materials that possess exceptional electronic and thermal properties to reduce heat generation and improve thermal management through passive cooling. This technology is also crucial for reducing energy consumption, which is a pressing global concern.

This project aims to develop new hybrid materials with enhanced electronic and thermal properties to address the challenge of dissipating heat with an efficient new cooling system based on the new developed materials. The project will provide considerable social and environmental benefits for Australian society and industry, including intellectual property, commercialisation opportunities and employment, and reduction of energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

Associate Professor Dan Liu
Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM)

Two-dimensional nanomaterials for wearable zinc ion battery
There is an urgent need for new materials and technologies to relieve the pressure from the ongoing depletion of fossil fuels and ever-growing energy demands. This project aims to design and develop wearable ‘solid-state zinc batteries’ – which is a type of battery that uses zinc and nano-sized materials to store and release energy with high efficiency.

Unlike traditional batteries that use liquid electrolytes, wearable solid-state batteries use solid nano-sized materials to conduct electricity, which makes them safer and more efficient. They are commonly used in wearable devices – like health monitoring, movement tracking, and smart clothing – and are strong, long-lasting and environmentally friendly. This work will generate new ideas in material manufacturing and the creation of low cost and safe batteries.

Dr Fangfang Chen
Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM)

Design of novel polymer electrolytes for solid state sodium batteries
If Australia is to develop a future ‘green economy’ we will need high-performance energy-storage devices to effectively use renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions. As the energy storage needs of industry and households grow, the enormous energy-storage challenge will be difficult to solve with current lithium-ion battery technology alone.

This research will provide alternative energy storage technology based on sodium batteries, which will be more economical and sustainable in the long term. The project will bring together world-renowned experts in the fields of polymer synthesis, characterisation and modelling to develop new polymer materials.

This article was first published on Deakin Research News. Read the full article and see the list of Deakin recipients.