Tomorrow's Electronic Devices

Our research

Tomorrow's Electronic Devices

Researching today what we will need tomorrow

New materials science opens up a future world. We are, today, undertaking research for tomorrow’s electronic devices. In doing so, we are looking to solve some big social and environmental challenges of our time.

Overview

This research theme involves envisaging the world’s technological needs in 10, 20, 30 years’ time. We know our current research has real world applications, such as improving energy consumption, but this same research could also have far reaching applications beyond our immediate imagination.

Our research objectives

Objective 1: Nanoengineered surfaces

Our first objective was to develop nanoengineered surfaces for tailored electronic and optical properties. We need to first understand how and why the surface of a material affects its performance. This then allows us to control the characteristics to find exciting new science or realise a commercial function.

Objective 2: Spintronics

Our second objective is to explore new frontiers in spin polarised and superconducting materials. Superconductors carry electricity with 100% efficiency. Our research into materials that have technological applications in superconductivity and magnetism can greatly enhance existing devices and be used in future new devices.

Objective 3: Computer modelling

Our third objective is to model the behaviour of new and emergent materials. Hand in hand with our materials science are theoretical and modelling projects. These computer-based models allow us to explore the parameter space of electronics and optics and predict future applications and novel materials.

Our materials discovery programme will expand the range and number of New Zealand industries using advanced materials in products and services.

Professor Simon Brown MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator Science Leader, Tomorrow's Electronic Devices University of Canterbury
Tomorrow's Electronic Devices

Our projects

Below is an introduction to some of the projects we are working in within this research theme.

Rare nitrides and electrons

Our work on rare nitrides is aimed at developing more efficient electronic devices. One application could be a magnetic field sensor moving along metal pipes probing for cracks, for example gas pipes. If cracks can be detected easily we can stop leaks, save money and the environment. This could have huge positive impacts for large continents like the USA where there are thousands of kilometres of metal pipes transporting gas.

High-temperature-superconductors (HTS)

Our world leading position in the knowledge of high-temperature-superconductors (HTS) has the potential to help many different industries to improve efficiencies and energy consumption. For example, the research could lead to an industrial magnetic resonance imaging machine working on less power at a higher temperature, making it cheaper and easier to use for, say an oil refinery.

Oxide semiconductors

Realising a new generation of optoelectronic devices in the UV spectrum is the focus of our research into oxide semiconductors. The aim is to develop innovations such as invisible self-powered sensors, optical displays and ‘smart glass’ for energy efficient buildings.

Spintronics

Spintronics is the use of an electron’s spin as well as its charge for the development of new materials. Materials used in electronics rely on the charge of electrons within the material, but the emerging field of spintronics also uses the magnetic properties of a material to create new advanced materials. This application can greatly enhance the performance of a device, ie dramatically increasing the storage capacity and power of computers.

Photolithography

Work on photolithography aims to reduce the size of the wires on computer chips from 100 nanometres to just 10 to 20 nanometres. If you can have five times the number of wires in the same space you can reduce the density and size of what you are making. Having electronics smaller and lighter has all sorts of advantages when fuel is needed to move the object. It could be used in something as simple as the modern car or as esoteric as a satellite going into space.

Natalie Plank - creating flexible electronics

Dr Natalie Plank, a researcher at the MacDiarmid Institute and Victoria University, explains how she is growing nanowires that can be manipulated to create electronic circuits on flexible films.

SAVVY Express: Science Media Centre - MacDiarmid Institute

February 23, 2015

More information

If you want to find out more, visit the following sections of our site:

Out of the lab

Since the MacDiarmid Institute of Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology opened in 2002, our scientists and their collaborators have developed many exciting innovations to aid our transition to a more sustainable lifestyle. Some have been patented, some are in the field-testing stage and others have gone on to be produced and marketed.

Read more

Into the marketplace

The aim of materials science and nanotechnology research at the MacDiarmid Institute is to positively transform people's lives and to benefit New Zealand. We partner with existing businesses to solve their materials science problems and take our innovations into the marketplace

Read more

Principal Investigators

Associate Investigators

Conceptually, we break down macroscopic materials into their constituent building blocks, and model their various interactions separately; we look at structure, properties, and environmental interactions in separate steps. We are getting closer to being able to put all these things together in order to predict the properties of novel materials – and that is exciting.

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

In the news

Beyond lithium - Annual Report 2018

Annual Report

Beyond lithium - Annual Report 2018

April 8, 2019

In today’s tech-hungry world, lithium batteries are ubiquitous, with everything from your mobile phone to the neighbour’s electric car relying on the metal, and it’s easy to see why. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries pack a punch, storing more energy than any other battery of equivalent size, and delivering power to where it’s needed, quickly and efficiently.

Read more about Beyond lithium - Annual Report 2018

When physics meets biochemistry - Annual Report 2018

Annual Report

When physics meets biochemistry - Annual Report 2018

April 8, 2019

Could bio-inspired self-assembled magnetic structures make computers more efficient?

Read more about When physics meets biochemistry - Annual Report 2018

Virtual materials - Annual Report 2018

Annual Report

Virtual materials - Annual Report 2018

April 8, 2019

Our researchers use computers to reproduce conditions unachievable in a lab, such as the magnetic forces inside a white dwarf star.

Read more about Virtual materials - Annual Report 2018

New Associate Investigators - Annual Report 2018

Annual Report

New Associate Investigators - Annual Report 2018

April 8, 2019

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

Read more about New Associate Investigators - Annual Report 2018

New Principal Investigators - Annual Report 2018

Annual Report

New Principal Investigators - Annual Report 2018

April 8, 2019

An overview of the research interests of each of our eight new Principal Investigators.

Read more about New Principal Investigators - Annual Report 2018

Videos

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

2018 Lecture Series: MacDiarmid - to Industry and Beyond!

February 16, 2019

In the 2018 MacDiarmid Institute Regional Lecture Series: MacDiarmid - to Industry and Beyond! Associate Professor Ben Ruck and Dr Harry Warring talk about their lives and work.

Read more 2018 Lecture Series: MacDiarmid - to Industry and Beyond!

Alison Downard - hi-tech painting

March 21, 2019

Professor Alison Downard, a researcher at the MacDiarmid Institute and the University of Canterbury explains "hi-tech painting" techniques to develop surface coatings to boost the effectiveness of energy storing devices.

SAVVY Express: Science Media Centre - MacDiarmid Institute

Read more Alison Downard - hi-tech painting

Lasers, Milk and Sperm - Cather Simpson

March 21, 2019

Professor, Associate Investigator, and Director of the Photon Factory, Cather Simpson talks about her work in photonics and how her curiosity about how materials behave at the nanoscale has positive implications on the economy and our health and wellbeing.

Read more Lasers, Milk and Sperm - Cather Simpson

MacDiarmid Institute alumna Dr Rebecca Hawke: an exciting career in science

February 25, 2019

Physicist and MacDiarmid Institute alumna Dr Rebecca Hawke discusses her exciting career in science. 

This video includes captions.

Read more MacDiarmid Institute alumna Dr Rebecca Hawke: an exciting career in science

Podcasts