What we do

What we do

What we do - he aha te mahi tātou

Annual symposium poster series

Sharing our work through the annual symposium poster series

Humankind is faced with unprecedented challenges such as climate change, depletion of finite resources, disease, and environmental pollution.

At the MacDiarmid Institute our investigators and students employ materials science and nanotechnology to investigate new ways to address these challenges.

The call for advanced materials has never been louder and our scientists are responding to that call. Our research will create new technologies to aid the transition to a more sustainable way of life. We want to make our world a better place for our grandchildren and their grandchildren.

We cannot get close to solving wicked, global problems with today’s technology; we must innovate, building on the best of what we know, and we must create new knowledge.

Professor Justin Hodgkiss MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator Co-director of the MacDiarmid Institute Victoria University of Wellington

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.

Out of the lab

Our materials science and nanotechnology research starts in the laboratory and always generates valuable knowledge regardless of the findings. However our ultimate aim is to create something that can be used to meet a need in the real world.

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Into the marketplace

This is where the science end of business meets the business end of science. We partner with industry to use materials science to solve hi-tech and sustainability problems and enhance products.

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Into the community

Sharing the beauty of science with people in the community is an important role for the MacDiarmid Institute. Our investigators have a long and proud history of community engagement through a wide range of activities.

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Into the future

The true impact of the MacDiarmid Institute is through the contributions our graduates make in industry, academia and with their own start-ups. We send sustainability-minded, tech-savvy and business-savvy graduates into the world and watch them soar.

Read more about Into the future