Innovation and technology


Our researchers are developing new materials, instruments and systems that will contribute significantly to industry and improve conditions for many people on the planet.

Besides focusing on innovative research informing the development of tomorrow’s technologies, our researchers aim to partner with industry to transform their work into readily available, practical, real-world solutions.

The research topics of some of our most eminent scientists in this area are detailed below.


Fighting the war on waste
Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla
Waste microfactories are revolutionising recycling as the world’s waste crisis continues to escalate.

Where do all our obsolete mobile phones, laptops and tablets go?

Professor Veena Sahajwalla, a waste trailblazer who is revolutionising the way we recycle toxic materials, is determined to harness the value of old...

Leading “the space race of the 21st century”
Scientia Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons
UNSW Sydney – and Australia – is at the forefront in the quest to develop the world’s first commercial scale quantum computer.

“We want to build not just a quantum computer, but a quantum computing industry here in Australia. We’re up against the likes of Google, IBM and Microsoft and we believe we will win the race.”

2018 Australian of the Year...

App helps ecologists map vulnerable ecosystems within minutes
Dr Nick Murray
A mapmaking app created by UNSW scientists harnesses the power of Google and NASA to empower ecologists to create a view on ecosystems without any specialist equipment.

NSW scientists have created a mapmaking app that can fast-track large-scale ecosystem analysis from months to minutes, giving conservationists a way to monitor decades of human impact, hotspots of biodiversity and vulnerable...

The new technology has the potential to determine the levels of microRNA from just a finger prick blood test. Picture: Shutterstock
Blood-borne cancer detection receives gold-plated boost
Scientia Professor Justin Gooding
Scientists will be able to detect cancer earlier from blood samples after advances were made in detecting microRNA molecules using gold-plated nanoparticles.

UNSW researchers have discovered a new way to detect ultralow levels of microRNA in a blood sample which could make diagnosis of cancer and other illnesses quicker and more efficient.

The research team used nanoparticles...

One application of the new super desiccant could be removing smells from shoes. Image: Shutterstock.
Soaking up the water and the sweat – a new super desiccant
Dr Rakesh Joshi
UNSW scientists have developed a new carbon-based material that could revolutionise moisture control in applications as diverse as electronics, packaging, air conditioning – and keeping footwear fresh.

UNSW scientists have developed a new carbon-based material that could revolutionise moisture control in applications as diverse as electronics, packaging and air conditioning – and which could even be used to keep footwear...

Solving the lead problem in drinking water
Dr Kevin Laws
UNSW material scientists address the problem of lead leaching into the drinking water of Australian households by creating a new, lead-free brass alloy that will be used to make plumbing parts.

Material scientists at UNSW Sydney have come up with a lead-free brass alloy to replace traditional plumbing brass materials that have been shown to leach lead into drinking water.

The breakthrough alloy, which the group...

Best hope yet for aluminium-ion batteries
Dr Dong Jun Kim
UNSW Sydney’s Dr Dong Jun Kim has led a team of researchers to show rechargeable aluminium-ion batteries are a possibility with a future in renewable energy storage.

Aluminium-ion batteries are a step closer to becoming a reality after a UNSW Sydney chemist found a way to make the science behind the technology work.

In a...

The cobalt threshold
Emeritus Professor Brynn Hibbert
How research in the UNSW Chemical Sciences has helped protect animals by informing regulatory limits of cobalt and arsenic in the racing industry.

The practice of treating horses and greyhounds with arsenic and cobalt has been widespread in the racing industry because it is held that they enhance performance. Cobalt is a key element in metabolic processes, particularly...

Natural preservative set to revolutionise food industry in Indonesia
Dr Alexander Soeriyadi
UNSW research has helped commercialise a 100% biodegradable, natural chitosan product that preserves food for longer, reduces food waste and increases the income of smallholder farmers.

Indonesia is made up of over 18,000 islands with fragmented infrastructure. Many smallholder farmers cannot afford refrigeration equipment, so even though they harvest excellent quality produce, it is often hard to transport...