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Sydney Nano announces its five Grand Challenge projects

18 October 2018
Five visionary initiatives for social, economic and scientific impact
Professor Ben Eggleton has outlined the defining projects that will shape the direction of Sydney Nano following a competitive process that attracted high-quality applications from across the University of Sydney community.
Grand Challenge Champions with Sydney Nano Director Professor Ben Eggleton (second from right). Pictured (from left): Associate Professor Jun Huang; Associate Professor Wojciech Chrzanowski; Dr Shelley Wickham; Associate Professor Chiara Neto; Professor Martijn de Sterke; Dr Ivan Kassal; Professor Ben Eggleton; Dr Anna Waterhouse.

Grand Challenge Champions with Sydney Nano Director Professor Ben Eggleton (second from right). Pictured (from left): Associate Professor Jun Huang; Associate Professor Wojciech Chrzanowski; Dr Shelley Wickham; Associate Professor Chiara Neto; Professor Martijn de Sterke; Dr Ivan Kassal; Professor Ben Eggleton; Dr Anna Waterhouse.

The Director of the University of Sydney Nano Institute, Professor Benjamin Eggleton, has announced five Grand Challenges that will define Sydney Nano’s strategic priorities for the next five years.

The five Grand Challenges are: 

  • Safe-by-Design: Sustainable Nanotechnology
    led by Associate Professor Wojciech Chrzanowski, School of Pharmacy, and Associate Professor Elizabeth New, School of Chemistry
  • Advanced Capture of Water from the Atmosphere
    led by Professor Martijn De Sterke, School of Physics, and Associate Professor Chiara Neto, School of Chemistry
  • Nanotechnology for Carbon-Neutral Manufacturing
    led by Associate Professor Jun Huang, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Associate Professor Deanna D’Alessandro, School of Chemistry
  • Next-Generation Materials Discovery
    led by Dr Ivan Kassal, School of Chemistry, and Dr Lamiae Azizi, School of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Molecular Nanorobotics for Health
    led by Dr Shelley Wickham, School of Chemistry and School of Physics, and Dr Anna Waterhouse, School of Medicine

Professor Eggleton said: "I was impressed by the quality of entries we received. This is a strong indication of the University’s strength in nanoscience and technology. It was no easy task to narrow them down to five, and I applaud the selection committee for doing an amazing job.

"These projects, which are addressing some of the most important challenges facing our world, are truly multidisciplinary, with strong engagement and cooperation from many parts of the University."

Sydney Nano will provide up to $75,000 a year to each Grand Challenge team for two years to seed-fund their projects. The Grand Challenges bring researchers together into multidisciplinary teams supporting sustainable, long-term areas of research.

This approach is central to Sydney Nano’s strategic objectives and operational execution. Importantly, they will be critically enabled by advances in nanoscience or nanotechnology.

Sydney Nano received a large number of quality applications from across the Faculties of Science, Medicine & Health, Engineering & IT, and the Schools of Business and Architecture Design & Planning. Their areas of research span the wide range of disciplines that make up nanoscale science and technology and the three broad areas in which Sydney Nano seeks to have impact - energy and the environment; health and medicine; and communications, computing and security.

Professor Martijn de Sterke and Associate Professor Chiara Neto.

Professor Martijn de Sterke and Associate Professor Chiara Neto.

Advanced Capture of Water from the Atmosphere

Grand Challenge: To develop and to utilise large, inexpensive, passively-cooled nanostructured materials that maximize the capture of atmospheric moisture.

Vision: To capture enough water from the atmosphere to alleviate the effect of drought by providing water for consumption by humans and animals, and for irrigating plants.

Team: Martijn de Sterke (Champion), Chiara Neto (Deputy Champion), Steve Armfield, Helen Bramley, Karla Straker, Willem Vervoort, Dianne Wiley, Rongkun Zheng.

Associate professors Jun Huang and Deanna D'Alessandro.

Associate professors Jun Huang and Deanna D'Alessandro.

Nanotechnology for Carbon Neutral Manufacturing

Grand Challenge: To develop nanocatalysis to convert CO2 and new energy conversion and storage technologies to reduce CO2 emissions.

Vision: To harness CO2 as a resource to manufacture fuels and chemicals as well as use sustainable energy technologies to replace traditional energy devices.

Team: Jun Huang (Champion), Deanna D’Alessandro (Deputy Champion), Assaad Masri, Xiaozhou Liao, Dacheng Tao, Rongkun Zheng, Catherine Stampfl, Cameron Kepert, Chris Ling, Thomas Maschmeyer, Eric Knight, Dianne Wiley, Ali Abbas, Brian Haynes

Associate professors Wojciech Chrzanowski and Liz New.

Associate professors Wojciech Chrzanowski and Liz New.

Safe-by-Design: Sustainable Nanotechnology

Grand Challenge: To establish transforming capabilities to effectively mitigate the risks and social concerns associated with the use of nanomaterials.

Vision: To develop a ‘minimum nanotoxicity’ framework to assess safety-efficacy-toxicity of any class on nanomaterial as well as to direct the design of the next generation of nanomaterials, while protecting the sustainability and benefits of nanotechnology.

Team: W. Chrzanowski (Champion), E. New (Deputy Champion), B. Hawkett, W. Cai, I. Koprinska, R. MacLeod, B. Eggleton, M. Beck,
C. Di. Lernia, C. Hardy, H. Duong. 

Dr Shelley Wickham (left) and Dr Anna Waterhouse.

Dr Shelley Wickham (left) and Dr Anna Waterhouse.

Molecular Nanorobitics for Health

Grand Challenge: to build molecular nano-robots, self-assembled from biomolecules, to navigate the body to diagnose and treat early disease.

Vision: To detect early, treatable damage in coronary arteries, to prevent heart disease.

Team: Shelley Wickham (co-Champion) & Anna Waterhouse (co-Champion), P. Bannon, S. Wise, C. dos Remedios, S. Lal, Y Lau, C. Neto, L. New, K. Jolliffe, M. Muellner, R. Clarke, M. Sunde, R. Codd, T. Maschmeyer, B. Fulcher, M. Bilek, Z. Kuncic, A. Abbas, M. Large, A. Williamson.

Dr Ivan Kassal and Dr Lamiae Azizi.

Dr Ivan Kassal and Dr Lamiae Azizi.

Next-generation Materials Discovery

Grand Challenge: Developing new techniques for simulating next-generation materials on computers

Vision: Ability to simulate any new material, from single atoms to fully functioning devices, Approach incorporates quantum computing, multiscale simulation and machine learning.

Team: Ivan Kassal (Champion), Lamiae Azizi (Deputy Champion), Stephen Bartlett, Michael Biercuk, Andrea Blanco-Redondo, Toby Hudson, Ahmad Jabbarzadeh, Meredith Jordan, Girish Lakhwani, Stefano Palomba, Catherine Stampfl, Asaph Widmer-Cooper, Dong Xu.

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