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The MacDiarmid Institute for
Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology

Te Mana Tangata Whakawhanake - Leadership to Innovate Sustainable Materials

We are a network of leading researchers united in a common goal: to create and explore innovative, sustainable materials that will improve the lives of people in Aotearoa and around the world.

We work together and partner with industry and government to address global challenges such as clean water, renewable energy and climate change.

Our research areas

Towards Zero Waste - Reconfigurable Systems

Building on our highly interdisciplinary track-record in soft materials, we will reimagine the use and reuse of materials themselves - from taonga 3D printed from traditional Māori materials, to creating a form of artificial cells that self-regulate and reconfigure for different functions.

Read more about Towards Zero Waste - Reconfigurable Systems

Towards Zero Carbon - Catalytic Architectures

Our research will support New Zealand's goal for 'net zero' carbon emissions by 2050. We will explore new materials that will catch CO2 from air and waste streams. We'll also design new catalysts that will turn CO2 into green fuels.

Read more about Towards Zero Carbon - Catalytic Architectures

Towards Low Energy Tech - Hardware for Future Computing

The data centres worldwide that support our digital lifestyles use almost ten times as much electricity per year as the whole of NZ. We will develop computing materials that process information more like a brain, and that use far less energy than conventional electronics.

Read more about Towards Low Energy Tech - Hardware for Future Computing

Sustainable resource use - Mātauranga Māori Research Programme

Crosscutting these Research Programmes sits our Mātauranga Māori Research Programme. This programme provides a platform for the other three research programmes, intersecting with the theme of sustainability.

Read more about Sustainable resource use - Mātauranga Māori Research Programme

MacDiarmid Institute

New Zealand's best scientists, engineers and educators, unified for a common goal: to make, understand, and use new materials to improve people's lives.

February 20, 2019

Video transcript

The challenges facing New Zealand and the world today - clean water, renewable energy, climate change - will be solved by tomorrow's scientists and engineers - sitting in our classrooms right now, ready to be inspired. They need new materials and new technology based on those materials that haven't been discovered yet.

That's what the MacDiarmid Institute does. We are New Zealand's best scientists, engineers and educators, unified for a common goal: to make, understand, and use new materials to improve people's lives.

What is materials science

MacDiarmid Institute investigators discuss how materials science and nanotechnology can solve the big problems of our time.

May 8, 2019

Video transcript

Associate Professor Nicola Gaston: Can you imagine a future where electricity is practically free, where there's clean water available for everyone and a simple blood test taken at home can help diagnose some diseases?

The technology that can make each of those things possible is based on materials science. Materials are all around us; this coffee cup, this table, even this sugar I might put in the coffee. When we make things really small, as we do in nanotechnology, we create a material that has most of its substance at the surface. With sugar, that means it dissolves quickly. But in general what it means is that we can control the properties of that material with great precision. So we can take a material, any material - it could be a metal or it could be plastic - and we can play with the surface and give it new abilities. For example, we could make it anti-bacterial or we could make it absorb more light.

The MacDiarmid Institute is a network of New Zealand's best materials scientists. Materials science is the basis of all high-tech manufacturing, including sustainable environmental innovations such as new solar cells or carbon capture technologies for climate change mitigation. We work with existing industries and we also spinout new companies. In the past 15 years we have spun out 16 new companies.

Dr Ray Thomson: One of the really exciting things that the Investigators at MacDiarmid are working on is across this whole climate change area. Sequestering carbon dioxide, improving the efficiency of photovoltaic cells through to really advanced battery storage.

Associate Professor Nicola Gaston: If we want that future, a materially sustainable future, where everyone around the world can have clean water, personalised medicine, free electricity, we need materials technologies. In the MacDiarmid Institute we bring materials scientists together and we partner with industry to create intellectual property, jobs and wealth for New Zealand.

About us

We are a network of committed biologists, chemists, physicists and engineers who collaborate to develop innovations that will both solve big problems and boost the New Zealand economy.

What we do

Our research is creating new technologies to aid the transition to a more sustainable way of life and make our world a better place.

Our partnerships

We have ongoing partnerships with community groups, museums and other organisations to help us take science out of the lab to make it accessible, exciting and inspiring.

Check out our latest research

Daniels, R. K. & Brown, S. A. Nanowire networks: How does small-world character evolve with dimensionality? Nanoscale Horizons 6, 482–488 (2021).

Pradhan, S., Solomon, R., Gangotra, A., Yakubov, G.E., Willmott, G.R., Whitby, C.P., Hale, T.K. & Williams, M.A. Depletion of HP1α alters the mechanical properties of MCF7 nuclei. Biophysical Journal 120, 2631-2643 (2021).

Manuguri, S., van der Heijden, N.J., Nam, S.J., Narasimhan, B.N., Wei, B., Cabero Z, M.A., Yu, H., Granville, S., McGillivray, D.J., Brothers, P.J. & Williams, D.E. Polymer Micelle Directed Magnetic Cargo Assemblies Towards Spin‐wave Manipulation. Advanced Materials Interfaces 8, p.2100455 (2021)

Wang, Q., Yang, Y., Sun, F., Chen, G., Wang, J., Peng, L., Chen, W.-T., Shang, L., Zhao, J., Sun-Waterhouse, D., Zhang, T. & Waterhouse, G. I. N. Molten NaCl-Assisted Synthesis of Porous Fe-N-C Electrocatalysts with a High Density of Catalytically Accessible FeN4 Active Sites and Outstanding Oxygen Reduction Reaction Performance. Advanced Energy Materials 11, Art. No. 2100219 (2021). 

Casey-Stevens, C. A., Yang, M., Weal, G. R., McIntyre, S. M., Nally, B. K. & Garden, A. L. A theoretical investigation of 38-atom CuPd clusters: the effect of potential parameterisation on structure and segregation. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 23, 15950-15964 (2021). 

Read more about our latest research

Meet our people

Professor Jim Johnston

Professor Jim Johnston

Emeritus Investigator

Our long-term goal is to establish new export manufacturing industries in New Zealand and to provide new products and technologies to local and international industries. We work closely with industry and our various research projects are largely funded by industry and MBIE research grants.

Contact us

Postal address:
The MacDiarmid Institute
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600
Wellington 6140
New Zealand

+64 4 463 6927

Email us:

Study with the MacDiarmid Institute

Working with our teams of leading scientists opens up a myriad of exciting opportunities for those who join us as students or as investigators.

These include involvement in vital international academic research, start-up companies, industry collaborations, local and central government projects, and, most importantly, developing innovations to improve people’s lives.

Find out more!