About us

About us

About us - tā mātou mahi

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MacDiarmid Institute researchers and students in front of the the wharenui at Whakarewarewa Living Māori Village in 2021

We are scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs, collaborators, environmentalists, educators, mentors, students, community members and life-long learners.

The MacDiarmid Institute pulls together passionate and committed investigators from seven institutions across Aotearoa who combine their expertise to find new ways to positively transform people’s lives.

The institutions include five of New Zealand’s universities - the University of Auckland, Massey University, Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Canterbury and the University of Otago - along with government innovation agency, Callaghan Innovation, and GNS Science, the country’s leading provider of Earth, geoscience and isotope research.

Partnerships map

Our research focus is materials science and new technology, especially the unexplored territory where chemistry, physics, biology and engineering meet. We collaborate to bring innovations to the marketplace where they can help address the big problems of our time and contribute to the New Zealand economy. Our ultimate aim is to help the transition to a more sustainable way of life.

Materials research is inherently about the responsible use of resources. This includes the fundamental work to understand how to make specific materials more energy efficient and extends through to the practical design of materials to avoid toxic or scarce elements.

Professor Nicola Gaston MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator Co-director of the MacDiarmid Institute University of Auckland

Our home base was opened at the Victoria University of Wellington in 2002 and we are one of New Zealand’s oldest Centres of Research Excellence. We have just over 100 current investigators along with our graduate and PhD students and regularly collaborate with external researchers. Our research income includes base CoRE funding from the Tertiary Education Commission.

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.

What drives us

Our researchers are committed to the development of advanced materials to solve real world problems and to inspire a new generation of committed scientists. We are continuing the work of our pioneering namesake Nobel prize winner Alan MacDiarmid and founder, Sir Paul Callaghan.

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Official publications

The MacDiarmid Institute Strategic Plan outlines our vision, mission, objectives, priorities, partnerships and measures of success. Our Annual Reports detail how our research will transform lives and advance New Zealand.

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Advanced materials research relies heavily on specialised instruments. These Tools for Transformation are distributed throughout our seven collaborating institutes and allow us to achieve amazing leaps forward in new discoveries.

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Our investigators are continually recognised for excellence nationally and internationally and this reflected in the number and breadth of awards they receive.

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Funding successes

The MacDiarmid Institute is delighted with the funding successes for our investigators and their research programmes during 2018 and 2019.

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Information for Investigators

Tangata whakawhanake - to improve people’s lives. As an Institute we operate from a set of core values that direct our research and underpin who we are and the way we do things.

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Official Submissions

This is where official submissions by the MacDiarmid Institute can be viewed.

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Join us

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.

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Contact us

On this page you will find our contact details including phone, email, and postal address. Our social media links are also included, together with a contact form.

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