AUCAOS members awarded research funding by Australian Research Council (Discovery Projects 2019 round 1)

Congratulations to the following AUCAOS members who have recently been awarded Discovery Project funding by the Australian Research Council: Prof Ron White, Assoc Prof Chris McNeill, Dr David Huang, Prof Gunther Andersson, Dr Nadim Darwish, Prof Keith Gordon, Prof Paul Low, Dr Atilla Mozer, Prof Tim Schmidt, Dr Andrew Nattestad.

Please see below for further details (AUCAOS members in bold):

Investigator(s) Summary
Associate Professor Attila Mozer; Dr Pawel Wagner; Dr Andrew Nattestad; Associate Professor Shogo Mori; Professor Keith Gordon Faster interfacial electron transfer: the effect of molecule shape and size. This project aims to explore the effect of shape and size of pi-conjugated molecules on interfacial electron transfer reactions, which are fundamentally important in all applications of photo-electrochemical conversion and storage of energy. By making two series of pi-conjugated molecules and determining electron transfer rates using a combination of transient spectroscopies and computational chemistry, the project expects to generate new design principles for molecules with the potential to significantly improve the efficiencies of solar energy conversion and photo-catalytic processes. The new materials and findings will be exploited in a novel redox-mediated water splitting device as a practical outcome with potential end user benefits.
Associate Professor Christopher McNeill; Associate Professor David Huang; Professor Martin Heeney; Professor Michael Sommer Aggregation control for high-performance polymer electronics. This project aims to exploit the behaviour of semiconducting polymer chains in solution to realise high-performance polymer electronics. This project will be achieved through a combination of simulation, theory, and X-ray measurements of solution-phase chain conformation and device studies. The project expects to create new predictive understanding of how the self organisation of semiconducting polymer chains determines thin-film microstructure and thus charge transport in thin-film devices. Expected outcomes include new materials and processes for high-performance polymer transistors and enhanced interdisciplinary research partnerships. This approach should hasten the development of new technologies based on lightweight flexible electronic devices.
Associate Professor James Sullivan; Professor Ronald White; Professor Michael Brunger; Dr Daniel Cocks; Dr Joshua Machacek; Professor Gustavo Garcia; Dr Jimena Gorfinkiel Positrons in biosystems. This project aims to improve our understanding of the damage processes in Positron Emission Tomography (PET). PET is a widely used medical imaging technique, but there are gaps in our understanding of the underlying interactions, in particular in the case of the radiation damage induced during the process. By using new models incorporating accurate descriptions of interactions processes, verified by experimental measurement, this project will develop a new model of positron transport in PET. The project will allow validation of predictions from the model by undertaking experiments in liquid water.
Professor Erica Wanless; Professor Vincent Craig; Professor Gunther Andersson; Associate Professor Grant Webber; Dr Alister Page Unravelling the dominant drivers of ion specificity. This project aims to understand what governs the sensitivity of many technological and biological processes to the precise nature of the salt present in solution. The term ‘ion-specific’ encompasses all the circumstances in which the influence of a salt in solution depends on the precise chemical nature of the salt, not just the electrical charge on the ions that form the salt. As such, ion-specific effects abound and have important consequences in most situations involving solutions, including cellular functions and battery technology. This project will enable us to understand and control the influence of specific ions, building on our recently described fundamental ion-specific series with colloid science experiments and quantum simulations. This project should overcome current challenges in predicting ion-specific effects leading to progress in a wide variety of applications of colloid and interface science, from sensor interfaces to self-assembly.
Dr Simone Ciampi; Dr Nadim Darwish Electrostatic catalysis from single-molecule events to macroscopic systems. Electrostatics has important applications in day-to-day technologies, from recycling plastics to photocopying, but the exploration of how static charges affect chemical bonds and bonding is still in its infancy. This project aims to demonstrate the experimental links between the magnitude and polarity of an external electric field and chemical rates, expanding our understanding of chemical reactivity and transforming our view of catalysis. By investigating the role of static electricity over systems selected from different sub-disciplines of chemistry, the project will derive the ground and selection rules for reactivity and selectivity by electrostatics. The project is expected to show that for chemical reactions of practical and conceptual value a specific catalyst can be replaced by a generic electric field stimulus, an invisible catalyst, enabling cleaner and cheaper opportunities that current technologies cannot fulfil.
Professor Paul Low; Professor Richard Nichols; Professor Colin Lambert Molecular transistors: from strings and rings to other things. This project aims to use chemical approaches to develop molecular transistors, which are critical components for a future molecular electronics technology. The use of molecules as ultra-miniaturised electronic components is gathering attention from industry and academia, as a solution to the approaching limits of top-down scaling. However, current molecular designs based on gating through chemical reaction or redox state changes are slow and inefficient. The project will develop molecular transistors with exceptionally high gain and fast response based on gating the energy of quantum interference features in molecules with cross-conjugated or ring-like shapes. This will provide significant benefits including new strategies for nanofabrication of molecular devices.
Professor Paul Low; Professor Richard Nichols; Professor Colin Lambert; Professor Dr Martin Kaupp; Dr Thomas Becker A radical approach to the design of components for molecular electronics. This project aims to develop highly conductive organometallic molecular wires for use in future molecular electronics technology. Metal complexes have immense potential as components in future electronic circuits, offering function on a size impossible to meet in conventional solid-state devices, and helping overcome limits in ‘top-down’ scaling. Whilst organic molecules that display electronic function are known, their performance remains poor. Just as doping a semiconductor results in higher electrical conductance by placing additional electrons (holes) into the conduction (valence) band, this project will use transition metal organometallic complexes bearing radical ligands as innovative motifs in the design of novel molecular components.
Professor Timothy Schmidt; Professor Scott Kable; Associate Professor Jan Cami; Professor John Anthony; Professor John Stanton Resolving the interstellar carbon crisis with multilaser spectroscopy. This project aims to provide astronomers of the future with firm diagnostic tools to identify and understand exotic carbon species in the interstellar medium. Life on Earth began after delivery of carbon-based pre-biotic material to the young planet by comets and meteorites. This material came from outside the solar system, but we do not yet know the chemical make-up of the interstellar matter. This is because we do not understand precisely how the interstellar molecules and dust interact with starlight. This project will create and study models of interstellar matter in the laboratory, and will determine the chemical form of carbon in the interstellar medium. This will have lasting impact on astrophysical models, as well as theories of the origin of life.