Special Materials Applied Research & Technology Group

The Specials Materials Synthesis Group aims to develop, apply and commercialise new and emerging technologies and methods for the synthesis of a wide range of special materials. These include nanostructural powders, advanced functional ceramics, high temperature alloys, shape memory alloys, multiphase materials and metal-matrix composites. We are equipped with and employ both innovative and conventional materials synthesis and processing facilities including; electric discharge assisted mechanical milling, induction and arc melting, and consolidation via pulse plasma sintering, and hot and cold pressing. We are also actively involved in collaborations with a range of local and international research and commercial groups.


Electric Discharge Assisted Mechanical Milling (EDAMM) - Blue Sky Technology for Synthesis and Processing of Materials.

This research addresses the need for energy efficient and environmentally friendly materials synthesis and processing methods. We employ the novel, super-efficient, EDAMM method to enhance reactivity between powder species and reduce processing and energy consumption times, typically by over an order of magnitude. The Plasma environment operative during EDAMM is being investigated at a fundamental level to gain understanding of this novel technology and its associated solid-gas and solid-solid rapid reaction chemistry. New materials with superior properties are being synthesised by this innovative manufacturing process. Individual EDAMM Projects

(i) Synthesis of "exotic" metallic and ceramic compounds using reactive complex plasma.

(ii) Developing fundamental understanding plasma properties during EDAMM for new materials processing applications

(iii) Carbon and hydrogen plasma assisted reduction of minerals. (iv) Synthesis and properties of advanced oxide based supercapacitors (v). Synthesis of "exotic" metallic and ceramic compounds using reactive complex plasma.

Conventional Mechanosynthesis and Reactive Milling

(i) A fundamental study of the mechanism of early stages of phase formation during mechanically induced self-propagating reaction of Ti-C, TiB and Ti-N by controlled ball milling. (ii). Advanced Al-based and Cu-based Metal Matrix Nanocomposites: Synthesis and Properties

Consolidation and sintering by Pulse Plasma Processing

Pulsed plasma sintering allows rapid reactive consolidation of nanopowders with minimal grain growth. Through collaboration with international power electronics experts in Europe we have constructed and are testing a unique device for rapid densification of powders.

Synthesis and characterisation of special purpose shape memory alloys

Projects include advanced ferrous and non-ferrous one way and two way shape memory alloys, and shape memory-metal matrix composites

Synthesis and characterisation of high entropy single phase and eutectic alloys

Our conventional and plasma synthesis and processing technologies allow the rapid exploration of new alloy chemistries, particularly in the emerging field of high entropy alloys where thousands of alloy compositions remain unexplored.

Deformation behaviour of new materials for extreme environments

(in collaboration with AIIM electron microscopy centre)


We are open to initiate of new collaborations in the fields of advanced powder and alloy synthesis, and in advanced characterisation and problem solving. Areas include, nanomaterials, functional electronic materials where new synthesis approaches are required, either for new products or for the solution of current materials related problems. We also have significant practical expertise in conventional metallurgical characterisation and failure analyses.