Condensed Matter & Materials Physics

Impact

Our research is directed at characterising and understanding the fundamental properties and behaviour of natural and advanced materials to improve sustainability and manufacturing outcomes. Using an array of bulk, atomic, optical, and nuclear techniques, our research has application in a wide range of areas including:  

  • magnetic and electronic devices 
  • optical signal processing and data storage 
  • biomedical physics 
  • nanoscale functionality 
  • ionising radiation dosimetry and imaging 
  • magnetic refrigeration. 

Competitive Advantage

We have access to an extensive suite of in-house facilities available for the preparation, characterisation and investigation of materials over a wide range of temperatures. We also have access to neutron and light scattering facilities at the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering (OPAL reactor) and the Australian Synchrotron as well as overseas facilities (Germany, Canada, UK, France). Our research investigations are supported by detailed analytical and related theoretical studies.  

Specialist, in-house expertise in low-temperature techniques includes: 

  • High-resolution optical spectroscopy exploiting hole burning techniques 
  • Rare earth and iron-based Mössbauer spectroscopy as a probe of local atomic interactions 
  • Combination of bulk and microscopic techniques applied to magnetism 
  • Characterisation of nanoscale materials, such as GaAs/AlGaAs and graphene 
  • X-ray diffraction to low temperatures, complemented by electron microscopy 
  • Magnetic resonance, electronic and nuclear, applied at low temperatures 
  • Strong record and performance in analytical studies in support of experimental investigations. 

Successful Applications

  • X-ray imaging films based on rare-earth-doped phosphors have been developed based on optical investigations. 
  • Earth’s crust modelling relies heavily on knowledge of the oxidation state of iron in mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB). This has now been resolved using x-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy calibrated against standards characterised in our laboratories using 57Fe-Mössbauer spectroscopy. 
  • Adsorbate dynamics at graphene interfaces have been mapped with synchrotron radiation thereby influencing research on vertical graphene nano-sheets for fuel cells and filtering.  
  • The characterisation of polymer wear particles causing inflammation in knee implants has influenced the medical science of hip joints, disc and shoulder arthroplasty and spinal implants. 

Study With Us

Courses in Condensed Matter and Materials Physics are offered at levels 2, 3 and 4 (honours) as components of the Physics major.