Current projects

Prof Yiu-Wing Mai
B L Wang and Y-W Mai

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC-DP0665856, $490K, 2006-09)

Some outstanding mechanics problems in layered ferroelectro-magnetic composites with enhanced magnetoelectric effect

X Du and Y Meng

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC-DP0772551, $260K, 2007-09)

Novel nanostructured high energy cathode materials

M Bilek, D McKenzie and Y-W Mai

Australian Research Council Linkage Project (ARC-LP0775324, $1.255M, 2007-11)

Fracture-resistant highly insulating vacuum glazing

Y-W Mai and Q P Guo

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC-DP0877080, $630K, 2008-11)

Nanostructure design and toughening mechanisms of novel thermosets

H-Y Liu

Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (ARC-FT0992081, $624.3K, 2009-13)

Fatigue life prediction of nano-filler modified composites

Y-W Mai and Q P Guo

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC-DP120104648, $345K, 2012-14)

Toughening thermosets by highly ordered nanostructures

Prof Lin Ye
L Ye

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC-DP0880492, $375K, 2008-10)

Fundamentals of active sensor network for damage identification in engineering structures

L Ye and Z Yu

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC-DP0880433, $303K, 2008-10)

Fundamental roles of nano-particles in composite-fibre/epoxy-polymer (CF/EP) composites

Y Lu

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC-DP0985312, $300K, 2009-11)

Fundamentals of damage identification in tubular structures using guided waves

L Ye and J Fan

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC-DP110103991, $360K, 2011-13)

Fibrous fabrics with differential transplanar transport properties for moisture and water

Prof Andrew Ruys
A J Ruys, Q Li, W Li, P Carter and S K Warfield

Australian Research Council Linkage Project (ARC-LP0776938, $110K, 2008-10)

Cochlear implants: Identifying current paths through computational modelling of MRI data

R C Appleyard, A J Ruys, Q Li and M V Swain

Australian Research Council Linkage Project (ARC-LP0882396, $180K, 2008-10)

Computer simulation techniques to reduce the incidence of femoral fracture after hip replacement surgery

Prof Qing Li
Q Li, RC Appleyard and W Li

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC-DP0773726, $215K, 2007-09)

Computational scaffold optimisation for tissue engineering

Q Li

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC-DP1095135, $300K, 2010-12)

Topology optimisation of periodic structures for stent design

Q Li and S Zhou

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC-DP110104698, $210K, 2011-13)

Topology optimisation? An engineering approach to design of metamaterials

Prof Xiaozhou Liao
X Liao, Y Wang

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC-DP120100510, $300K, 2012-14)

Interactions between linear and interfacial crystalline defects and their impact on mechanical properties in nanostructured metals and alloys

X Liao

Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (ARC-  FT110100236, $817K, 2012-15)

The effect of structure and size on the mechanical behaviour of III-V semiconductor nanowires

X Liao

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC-DP0772880, $980K, 2007-11)

Transmission electron microscopy investigation of the deformation mechanisms of nanostructured materials

X Liao, C Lu and Y Shen

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC-DP0985450, $300K, 2009-11)

Atomistic mechanisms of the mechanical behaviour of nanostructured silicon carbide films

X Liao, S P Ringer and Z Shan

Australian Research Council Linkage Project (ARC-LP100100566, $382K, 2010-12)

In-situ transmission electron microscopy nanoindentation investigation of advanced structural metallic materials

X Liao, G Sha and M Song

International Science Linkages (ISL) Australia-China Special Fund for Scientific and Technological Cooperation, The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (CH090222, $50K, 2010-11)

Mechanism of isothermal nanocrystallisation of amorphous metallic alloys and the deformation behaviour of amorphous/nanocrystalline composites

Y Wang

Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ARC-DP110103117, $255K, 2011-13)

Effects of grain size on the deformation mechanisms and mechanical properties of Gum Metals (Ti alloys)

Dr. Li Chang

L Chang

Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, (ACSRF0008 $38k, 2012)

Electrostatic Levitation Aided Near-Contact Sliding: Superlubricity in Micro- and Nano-Electromechanical Systems

L Chang

University of Sydney Bridging Support Grant, $40k, 2012

Insights into phase transition kinetics in shear thickening fluids and their novel applicationsles

L Chang and T Burkhart

The Group of Eight Australia – Germany Joint Research Cooperation Scheme, (DAAD No. 50753307, $40k, 2011-12)

Nanomechanical characterization of the ultra-thin transfer film in polymer tribology

L Chang

 Australian Research Council Discovery Project (ACR-DP0877750, $290K, 2008-10)

Towards new generations of lubricants using nanoparticles

Prof Yiu-Wing Mai


Some outstanding mechanics problems in layered ferroelectro-magnetic composites with enhanced magnetoelectric effect

The proposed research has high impact on both science and technology of ferroelectromagnetic materials. The outcomes will
expand Australia's knowledge base and research capability in this emerging field. Relevant industries, such as smart
materials and devices, can benefit from the results of this project. The theoretical, experimental and numerical results can be
directly transformed to design and application guidelines for the materials engineers and scientists to develop innovative and
structurally/functionally reliable ferroelectromagnetic composites and their various devices and products.

* For more information, please contact Prof Y-W Mai.

Novel nanostructured high energy cathode material

This project aims to synthesis of novel functional polymer nanocomposites as high performance cathode materials for lithium rechargeable batteries from the point of view of nanotechnology. In the project, novel nanostructured polymers (such as polyaniline, electro-active polymers), metal (or multi-metal) nanocatalysts, carbon nanomaterials and their nanocomposites, will be prepared. The growth mechanisms and their synergic properties will be investigated. Results from this project will improve current knowledge for the high energy electro-active materials, bringing benefits to promote the development of high energy lithium secondary battery, broaden the nanotechnology in functional polymer composites field.

* For more information, please contact Dr X Du.

Fracture-resistant highly insulating vacuum glazing

Vacuum glazing can provide thermal and sound insulation for windows that achieve the benefits of double glazing without the increased thickness by incorporating a vacuum space between two sheets of glass. The gap is maintained by pillars under high compressive stress due to atmospheric pressure. In this project, we will study the effect of pillar designs and materials on the U-value and the mechanical performance of these complex structures. Detailed simulations and measurements of stress distributions in the pillars, edge seals and glass sheets, under static and dynamic loading conditions, will allow us to develop glazing structures with greatly increased mechanical strength.

* For more information, please contact Prof Y-W Mai.

Nanostructure design and toughening mechanisms of novel thermosets

The research will enable a new technology to manufacture a class of novel nanostructured thermosets that will impact many application areas in Australia, such as protective surface coatings, structural adhesives and composite matrix materials for aerospace and automotive, and microelectronic devices, etc. The intellectual properties and patents generated will contribute to the overall competitiveness and productivity of Australia's R&D. They will also provide business opportunities to develop niche markets for these new and high-value added materials on a large scale in Australia so as to maximise return and create jobs.

* For more information, please contact Prof Y-W Mai.

Fatigue life prediction of nano-filler modified composites

The aim of this research is to study the fatigue behaviour of nano-filler modified composites. The fracture mechanisms will be investigated systematically by experiments on composites with different nano-fillers, such as clays and particles. Shape- , size- and hybrid effects on ternary systems will be studied by both fracture mechanics tests and micro-structure analyses. Mechanics modelling will be developed to quantify the role of nano-filler on composite toughness and fatigue crack growth rate. Statistical analysis will be applied to predict the fatigue lifetime of these nanomaterials with due the considerations on initial flaw, filler sizes and orientations.

* For more information, please contact Dr H-Y Liu.

Toughening thermosets by highly ordered nanostructures

This research will develop a new technology to manufacture a class of novel ordered nanostructured thermosets. The outcome of this project will enable many existing and new engineering applications in the transportation, construction and microelectronics industries in Australia.

* For more information, please contact Prof Y-W Mai.

Prof Lin Ye


Fundamentals of active sensor network for damage identification in engineering structures

The development of active sensor network techniques for Australia's vast civil and defence infrastructure will
improve operational safety, reduce maintenance costs and extend the residual life of many of our engineered
assets. The resulting cost-efficiencies will advantage Australian producers in competitive global markets; our
companies will be well placed to produce and install active sensor network techniques and to provide training in the
associated asset management systems. Australian industry will have a unique opportunity to collaborate with the
world-class research networks on emerging areas such as damage diagnosis, prognosis and control, and
structural repair.

* For more information, please contact .

Fundamental roles of nano-particles in composite-fibre/epoxy-polymer (CF/EP)

There is a significant demand for value-added, innovative epoxy resins for various applications. Australia has a well
established aerospace industry and world-leading expertise in synthesising and processing inorganic
nano-particles. The outputs of this project will be beneficial to both material manufacturers and design engineers.
Understanding the fundamental roles of functional nano-fillers will stimulate scientific and technological interests for
future research and development of multifunctional engineering materials with improved properties and structures
designed in the nano-scale. The project will give Australian researchers a technological edge over their competitors
in materials science and engineering.

* For more information, please contact .

Fundamentals of damage identification in tubular structures using guided waves

Fundamentals of damage identification in tubular engineering structures using guided waves are investigated. Characteristics of guided waves in simple and complex tubular structures are analysed using theoretical, numerical and experimental approaches. Piezoelectric (PZT) transducers and their properties in activation, propagation and collection of guided waves are studied for identifying structural damage (e.g. corrosion and fatigue cracking), and active sensor networks are exclusively designed and developed for damage-vulnerable areas in tubular structures. Forward and inverse algorithms are developed for damage evaluation, and the robustness of the proposed techniques under adverse conditions is assessed for practical applications.

* For more information, please contact .

Fibrous fabrics with differential transplanar transport properties for moisture and water

The project develops a framework for the development of fibrous fabrics with desired differential transplanar transport properties for moisture and water, integrating various transport mechanisms with hierarchical microstructures of the fabrics. The results will lead to the development of new fabrics for the local and overseas apparel industry.

* For more information, please contact .

Prof Andrew Ruys


Cochlear implants: Identifying current paths through computational modelling of MRI data

The Cochlear implant is an Australian invention (first prototype 1978), leading to the formation of Cochlear Ltd. to commercialise it. Cochlear Ltd. has now delivered implants to over 60,000 people in 70 nations across the world. Copycat companies have arisen overseas, but Cochlear Ltd. remains the market leader, due to their commitment to ongoing R&D. The present project involves magnetic resonance imaging and finite element analysis to study the current leakage pathways in the cranial cavity for the purpose of optimizing the design and placement of the return electrode. The obvious benefit of this is longer battery life. Better understanding of current leakage over other intracranial nerves is the other anticipated benefit.

* For more information, please contact .

Computer simulation techniques to reduce the incidence of femoral fracture after hip replacement surgery

Australia's ageing population is driving an increase of 5% to 10% a year in the number of primary total hip replacements. We will move beyond conventional surgical techniques, to deliver the science for an accurate, reliable computer based system that is significantly more accurate and reliable. Optimising implant selection criteria to better match patients' activity levels and bone physiology and minimise revision rates; this has major implications for the national health budget and patients' quality of life. Our advances will allow the implementation of improved surgical techniques that minimise the risk of implant related bone failure.

* For more information, please contact .

Prof Qing Li


Computational scaffold optimisation for tissue engineering

Scaffold tissue engineering is a ground-breaking technology and offers exciting opportunity to improve the quality of health care for millions of patients. The success of tissue regeneration lies heavily on the mechanical and biological environment that the scaffold provides. This project aims at developing computational mechanics methods for scaffold design. It will explore, for the first time, the coupled mechanical and transporting criteria for scaffold optimisation in initial implantation and entire healing. The proposed computational framework has potential not only to produce novel scaffold topologies and design programs, but also to generate critical knowledge and new methods for tissue engineering.

* For more information, please contact Assoc Prof Q Li.

Topology optimisation of periodic structures for stent design

Periodic structure signifies an important class of engineering design. As one of its new applications, intravascular stent provides a permanent scaffold to support blood vessels, thereby restoring circulation. While stent therapy aims to minimise vascular damage, its ongoing therapeutic success depends largely on its topology. This project aims to develop new topology optimisation methods for periodic structure design. The method will enable the development of the path-dependent optimisation in unit-cell models with frictional contact as well as material and geometric nonlinearity. More broadly, the project has the potential to develop new methodology for general periodic structure design.

* For more information, please contact Assoc Prof Q Li.

Topology optimisation? An engineering approach to design of metamaterials

Metamaterials offer unusual physical properties and have significant potential to many technological innovations in precision instrument, medical, telecommunication, space and defence industries in the future. This project aims to develop a computational method for metamaterials so that they can be designed in an effective way.

* For more information, please contact Assoc Prof Q Li.

Prof Xiaozhou Liao


Interactions between linear and interfacial crystalline defects and their impact on mechanical properties in nanostructured metals and alloys

Crystalline defects play a critical role in determining the mechanical properties of materials. However, despite of significant worldwide efforts, the relationships between crystalline defects and mechanical properties have not been well understood, which in turn severely affects our capability of materials design for superior
mechanical properties. This project aims to apply state-of-the-art in-situ deformation transmission electron microscopy techniques to reveal how crystalline defects in nanostructured metals and alloys interact to each other and to link directly the interactions with the mechanical behaviour of the materials. The results will enable structural design of advanced metallic materials with optimum mechanical properties.

* For more information, please contact Assoc Prof X Liao.

The effect of structure and size on the mechanical behaviour of III-V semiconductor nanowires

Semiconductor nanowires have significant applications in modern technology. While the physical properties
of semiconductor nanowires have been relatively well investigated, their mechanical properties have so far
been less explored although these properties are important for the reliability and functionality of nanowire
devices. This project aims to apply state-of-the-art in-situ deformation transmission electron microscopy
techniques to reveal the effect of structure and size on the mechanical behaviour of III-V semiconductor
nanowires. The results will not only reveal the fundamental mechanical properties of nanowires but also
provide the opportunity to tune the electronic and optoelectronic properties of nanowires via strain
engineering.

* For more information, please contact Assoc Prof X Liao.

Transmission electron microscopy investigation of the deformation mechanisms of nanostructured materials

Some nanostructured materials have demonstrated superior mechanical properties (ie. combined high strength and good ductility), which has never been realized in conventional coarse-grained materials. These properties are caused by unique deformation mechanisms that are not assessable by coarse-grained materials. The deformation mechanisms in nanostructured materials have not been well understood, which in turn severely hinders the design and optimization of nanostructured materials with superior mechanical properties for practical applications. This project aims to use transmission electron microscopy to extract the deformation mechanisms responsible for good ductility and to find out the structures that trigger the deformation mechanisms.

* For more information, please contact Assoc Prof X Liao.

Atomistic mechanisms of the mechanical behaviour of nanostructured silicon carbide films

Superhardness and low temperature superplasticity, which are impossible in conventional coarse-grained silicon carbide (SiC), have been reported in nanostructured SiC films and nanowires, respectively. The atomistic mechanisms behind the exceptional mechanical properties are not understood. This severely hinders the design and optimization of nanostructured SiC films with superior mechanical properties for practical applications. This project aims to apply in-situ deformation transmission electron microscopy and molecular dynamics simulation to extract the deformation mechanisms responsible for the exceptional mechanical properties and to determine the structures that trigger the deformation mechanisms.

* For more information, please contact Assoc Prof X Liao.

In-situ transmission electron microscopy nanoindentation investigation of advanced structural metallic materials

This project will apply in-situ transmission electron microscopy nanoindentation to understand the relationships among microstructures, deformation mechanisms and mechanical properties of advanced metallic materials, including nanostructured alloys and metallic amorphous-crystalline composites. The results will deliver the fundamental science to design materials with optimum mechanical properties for a wide range of applications, such as fuel-efficient aircraft and road vehicles. The project will bring a cutting-edge technique to Australian science that adds an important arm to our already prominent research strengths in materials science, and will provide Australian scientists greater capability to understand and design advanced materials.

* For more information, please contact Assoc Prof X Liao.

Mechanism of isothermal nanocrystallisation of amorphous metallic alloys and the deformation behaviour of amorphous/nanocrystalline composites

Using atom probe tomography and transmission electron microscopy, we aim to understand (1) the mechanism of isothermal nanocrystallisation from zirconium-based amorphous metallic alloys and (2) the effect of nanocrystals on the deformation behaviour of amorphous/nanocrystalline composites, i.e., how nanocrystals affect the formation and evolution of shear bands, and fracture behaviour.

* For more information, please contact Assoc Prof X Liao.

Effects of grain size on the deformation mechanisms and mechanical properties of Gum Metals (Ti alloys)

The project aims to understand the relationships among grain size, mechanical properties and deformation mechanisms using in-situ deformation transmission electron microscopy techniques. This will provide the fundamental science for designing Gum Metals with superior properties for a range of engineered and biomedical applications.

* For more information, please contact Dr Y Wang.

Dr. Li Chang


Electrostatic Levitation Aided Near-Contact Sliding: Superlubricity in Micro- and Nano-Electromechanical Systems

This group mission will develop a new electrostatic levitation technique to achieve the frictionless motion, i.e. a state of superlubricity in Micro- and Nano-Electro-Mechanical Systems (M/NEMS). M/NEMS represent a new frontier in manufacturing engineering, which are referred to as intelligent miniaturized systems combining electrical and mechanical components. One of the major failure mechanisms for these devices is wear caused by the friction force between near-contact sliding parts. The project aims to provide a fundamental solution by eliminating the friction between near-contact sliders, aided by electrostatic levitation. The work will not only advances the basic knowledge in nano-contact mechanics for research community, but also bring significant economic opportunities to industry. The outcomes of the project will directly benefit the development of M/NEMS in various applications ranging from micro- and nano-robots, photonic devices to biological molecular motors.

* For more information, please contact .

Insights into phase transition kinetics in shear thickening fluids and their novel applications

Shear thickening fluids (STFs) present new opportunities to develop new passive, energy-absorbing/
dissipation materials, e.g. novel polishing fluids, liquid dampers/brakes, and “liquid armour”. The development
of STFs has been significantly hindered by the lack of fundamental knowledge of STFs after shear thickening
transition. Using innovative approaches, the project quantitatively characterises the mechanical properties
and structure-property relationships of STFs near and in particular after shear-thickening transition. It
delivers engineering science and solutions to the outstanding problems in developing STFs as novel highperformance
adaptive energy-absorbing materials for practical applications.

* For more information, please contact .

Nanomechanical characterization of the ultra-thin transfer film in polymer tribology

The use of polymeric materials in various tribological situation has become state of the art. A number of these applications are concentrated on the slidng wear mode for polymers against metallic counterparts. In this case, material transfer generally occurs, resulting a thin polymeric transfer film on the steel counterparts.The thickness of the film broadly ranges from few hundreds of nanometers to a few microns. Although the importance of the transfer film in polymer tribology has long been realised, the tribological behavior of the transfer film has not been fully understood, owing to the lack of quantitative techniques.
This project aims to systematically characterise the mechanical properties of the ultra-thin transfer film formed by polymers on the metallic counterparts during sliding contact. The key innovation of the project lies in multi-scale mechanical property characterization, on the basis of a series of nano- and micro- indentation tests.

* For more information, please contact .

Towards new generations of lubricants using nanoparticles

Reducing the size of particulate additives below the microscale is likely to improve tribological performance; there is strong evidence that nanoparticles are potentially valuable lubricant additives and polymer fillers, through their superior dispersion stability and lower levels of abrasiveness. However, the industrial application of these particles requires a fundamental understanding of wear mechanisms under a wide range of sliding conditions. The aims of the project are to develop the fundamental science for the industrial application of nanoparticles as lubricant additives and polymer fillers. Using an innovative research methodology, we will reveal how these additives will behave under a wide range of conditions.

* For more information, please contact .