Flinders University students will be the first in Australia to have the opportunity to undertake research at one of the world’s leading nanotechnology institutions under agreements signed last week with the National Institute of Materials Science (NIMS) in Japan.
The research, undertaken by students at PhD level, could range from the latest photovoltaic research where solar cells could be integrated into the windows of buildings to advanced data storage and computer component programs. The first students are expected to visit Japan within months with travel and accommodation support from the University and the NIMS respectively.
The agreements, to establish a joint graduate school and facilitate student and staff visits, were signed by Flinders Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Barber, and Professor Kohei Uosaki (pictured), Principal Investigator of the Nanoscale Materials Division of the NIMS – and Flinders graduate – and Professor Masakazu Aono, the Director General of the Nanoscale Materials Division.
Professor David Lewis, Director of the Flinders Centre for Nanoscale Science and Technology, said the agreements with the NIMS places PhD students, postdoctoral students and other researchers and academics at the leading edge of nanotechnology research in the world.
“The National Institute of Materials Science in Japan is one of the most accomplished in the field of nanotechnology and this agreement is a major breakthrough for our students and staff,” Professor Lewis said.
“Nanotechnology – where new products and processes are being developed on a molecular level on a scale of a billionth of a metre – is changing the way we live and has huge potential in a range of fields, particularly in the areas of energy and electronics,” he said.
“Flinders, for example, is already researching new photovoltaic cells that could replace the silicon-based cells currently in use – which require a lot of energy to produce – with cheaper plastic solar cells. Flinders is also exploring the potential for carbon nanotubes to provide much more efficient and energy saving membranes for desalination plants and, in the health area, microarrays of cells for disease recognition.
Professor Uosaki, who was awarded his PhD from Flinders in 1977 and is President of the recently established Flinders Japan Alumni Network, presented a lecture to students and discussed nanotechnology projects with a number of researchers.
Professor Uosaki said Flinders’ students would visit the NIMS for between six and 12 months and would have the opportunity to work with internationally recognized scientists and state-of-the-art equipment and “learn lots of things”.
The agreements with the NIMS put Flinders in distinguished company with other international collaborators including University of Cambridge and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
They continue Flinders’ leading role in the nanotechnology field having offered the first undergraduate degree in nanotechnology in the world in 2000.