Primary research interest

Energy materials

About me

I joined The University of Queensland in 1993 following postdoctoral positions at the Research School of Chemistry at ANU and at the University of New England. During 2008-2010 I was seconded to the Australian Synchrotron, Clayton, Victoria as Head of Science and returned full time to UQ in 2011. In 2013 I was appointed Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Science, while continuing to lead my group in SCMB. In 2015 I was appointed Deputy Executive Dean, Faculty of Science.

Research focus and collaborations

Materials for energy storage

We are developing new materials for use as cathodes in high-energy rechargeable batteries, particularly lithium sulfur batteries, and supercapacitors. Materials developed so far show potential increases in energy density of 3-5x that of lithium ion batteries. In this work, funded by industry and State Government, we are working to continue increasing the capacity of Li-S batteries in a new purpose-built facility.

Understanding structure in organic photonic devices

(Collaboration with Prof Paul Burn (Centre for Organic Photonics & Electronics - School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences) and Prof Paul Meredith (Centre for Organic Photonics & Electronics -School of Mathematics and Physics)

Organic devices such as organic light emitting diodes, solar cells and sensors, are constructed using multiple layers of materials that perform different functions such as emitting light and charge transport. The interaction between these layers is very important and we study diffusion and structure at interfaces using such techniques as X-ray and neutron reflectometry.

Funded projects

  • Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2014-2016
    The crucial role of organic-inorganic interfaces in the performance of organic optoelectronic devices
    Total value of grant: 390,000
  • Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2012-2014
    Diffusion: The key to performance in organic optoelectronic devices
    Total value of grant: $700,000 (Co-Chief Investigators Paul Burn & Michael James)
  • Baosteel-Australia Joint Research and Development Centre (Industry-funded grant) 2012-2014
    Advanced Materials for New Generation High Energy Storage
    Total value of grant: $1,100,322 (Co-Chief Investigator Da-Wei Wang)
  • Queensland Sustainable Energy Innovation Fund 2012-2013
    Ultrafast Durable High Energy Batteries
    Total value of grant: $210,000 (Co-Chief Investigators Da-Wei Wang & Fouad Haghseresht)

Teaching interests

Featured publications

Researcher biography

My research is based on things that happen at the interface between two or more phases.

The interfacial region is extremely important for processes as diverse as catalytic reactions in industry and breathing in mammals.

Examples of specific areas of interest are:

  • Thin films of functional materials - using methods such as self-assembly or the Langmuir Blodgett method, it is possible to deposit films as thin as one molecular layer. By inserting materials with useful properties into the layers, we can make films with desirable qualities. Projects we are currently undertaking include the use of porphyrins for electronic and optical properties, and the use of dendrimers for films which can sense metal ions in solution.
  • Protein/lipid interactions in lung surfactant - the process of breathing requires the presence of lung surfactant at the air/water interface that exists in the air spaces of the alveoli. Premature infants do not have surfactant, leading to Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS), which is fatal if not treated. The action of lung surfactant, which is a complex mixture of lipids and proteins, is poorly understood, and so attempts to develop good treatments for RDS are hampered. We are using peptide synthesis and expression methods to study the crucial interactions between the major proteins and other components of lung surfactant.
  • Studying ultra thin films is difficult, and sophisticated methods need to be used. We routinely use advanced X-ray and neutron methods, and have developed new ways to use synchrotron light in the detailed investigation of films and interfacial processes.