Towards Zero Waste - Reconfigurable Systems » The MacDiarmid Institute
Towards Zero Waste - Reconfigurable Systems

Our research

Towards Zero Waste - Reconfigurable Systems

Towards Zero Waste

Biological systems are incredibly efficient at recycling. In fact if we used the world’s resources as efficiently as our bodies treat the nutrients in the food we eat, our planet would be in a far better state.

Using nature as an inspiration for next-generation sustainable materials, our researchers are working to create self-regulating, self-repairing systems and develop new materials that are recyclable or reconfigurable.

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.

If we used the world’s resources as efficiently as our bodies treat the nutrients in the food we eat, our planet would be in a far better state.

RS v3

Our vision of how the sustainable materials we use in the future will be underpinned by supramolecular building blocks that assemble and reconfigure on demand.

RS Project 1 - Fabricate stimuli-responsive colloids and demonstrate dynamics

Project Leader:

Catherine Whitby

Lead Principal Investigators:

Jadranka Travas-SejdicCatherine WhitbyGeoff Willmott.

In this project we’ll make different kinds of emulsions and particles, including reconfigurable ‘Pickering’ emulsions (which are dispersions of unmixable liquids stabilised by solid particles) and solid ‘patchy’ particles that reversibly assemble (e.g into 3D porous matrices) in response to stimulus. Inspired by biological cell-signaling, we aim to develop stimuli-responsive colloid systems that are able to perform important chemical reactions in a controlled, sustainable and efficient way.

RS Project 2 - Self-assembling high value devices through biomimicry

Project Leader:

Jenny Malmström

Lead Principal Investigators:

Jenny MalmströmLaura DomiganDuncan McGillivrayVolker Nock.

We’ll design and prototype protein-based smart materials that can perform energy harvesting. We will explore non-classical properties of protein structures, such as magnetism, charge storage/conductivity and piezoelectricity (the coupling between the electrical and the mechanical state of the material). We will also develop techniques to guide the self-assembly of 3D protein carrier/cargo scaffolds on a surface (building on methods developed for organised 2D films) as well as the guided assembly of bioinspired materials based on electro- and chemotactic zoospores (using existing fungal lab-on-a-chip platforms in combination with advanced microscopy, optical tweezers, nanoaspiration and electrode systems). We’ll make useful nanostructured protein monolayers that are amphipathic (i.e. have both a hydrophilic and a hydrophobic end and therefore act as natural surfactants).

RS Project 3 - Harness Māori customary knowledge to produce new high value materials from nature

Project Leader:

Chris Bumby

Lead Principal Investigators:

Derek KawitiChris Bumby.

In the news

Materials science in the new energy sector

Annual Report

Materials science in the new energy sector

June 11, 2020

In May, the Government hosted the Just Transition summit in Taranaki on preparing for a low emissions economy,

Read more about Materials science in the new energy sector

An integrated research commercialisation approach

Annual Report

An integrated research commercialisation approach

June 11, 2020

Our efforts towards supporting emerging science entrepreneurs links students, experienced researchers, industry and investors across the country.

Read more about An integrated research commercialisation approach

New Associate Investigators 2019 - Annual Report 2019

Annual Report

New Associate Investigators 2019 - Annual Report 2019

May 28, 2020

An overview of the research interests of each of our nine new Associate Investigators.

Read more about New Associate Investigators 2019 - Annual Report 2019

Patents and Spinouts 2019 - Annual Report 2019

Annual Report

Patents and Spinouts 2019 - Annual Report 2019

May 27, 2020

This article from our 2019 Annual Report provides information about the MacDiarmid Institute's latest inventions, patents and spinouts.

Read more about Patents and Spinouts 2019 - Annual Report 2019

Videos

Nature of Science - Bill Williams

March 21, 2019

Professor Bill Williams of the MacDiarmid Institute and Massey University talks about his job as a scientist and why he loves it.

Working with biophysics and soft materials, Bill describes himself as an experimental scientist who looks at how we perceive the world and works to find ways to test these perceptions. Bill is a scientist because he is fascinated by the world around him and wants to continue to figure out how the world works.

Read more Nature of Science - Bill Williams

Geoff Wilmott - attracting and repelling water

March 21, 2019

From fog harvesters to self-cleaning surfaces, Dr Geoff Wilmott of the MacDiarmid Institute and the University of Auckland is looking at how water is both repelled by and attracted to surfaces with a range of possible applications.

SAVVY Express: Science Media Centre - MacDiarmid Institute

Read more Geoff Wilmott - attracting and repelling water

Bill Williams - the machinery of DNA

March 21, 2019

Professor Bill Williams of the MacDiarmid Institute and Massey University explores how better understanding biological problems from a physical point of view can help us come up with better treatments.

SAVVY Express: Science Media Centre - MacDiarmid Institute

Read more Bill Williams - the machinery of DNA

MacDiarmid Institute alumna Dr Rebecca Hawke: researching new solar cells

February 25, 2019

Physicist and MacDiarmid Institute alumna Dr Rebecca Hawke talks about solar cells and where science has taken her around the world.

This video includes captions.

1. Where in the world would you study science?

2. What are 5 items you can see around you that materials scientists worked on?

Read more MacDiarmid Institute alumna Dr Rebecca Hawke: researching new solar cells

2017 Lecture Series: Women in nanoscience

February 16, 2019

In the 2017 MacDiarmid Institute Regional Lecture Series: Women in nanoscience, three female MacDiarmid Institute nanoscientists tell their personal stories of life in science. Professors Penny Brothers and Cather Simpson, and Dr Michelle Dickinson (aka Nanogirl) give their own perspectives on what it is like being a woman in the physical sciences (physics, chemistry or engineering).

Read more 2017 Lecture Series: Women in nanoscience

Podcasts

Jenny Malmström on RadioNZ

Jenny Malmström on RadioNZ

May 9, 2019

Associate Investigator Jenny Malmström talks to RadioNZ about stem cells, implants and materials science.

Read more about Jenny Malmström on RadioNZ