Internationally recognised as a leader in electromaterials research, the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute (IPRI) is situated at the state-of-the art Australian Institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM) facility at the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus. Established in 1990 by Director Professor Gordon Wallace, IPRI is a key research strength at the University of Wollongong (UOW).
IPRI draws together researchers from a range of disciplines, including biologists, clinicians, chemists, physicists and engineers. IPRI competencies lie in the design and synthesis of intelligent materials. IPRI is renowned for expertise in the group of multifunctional, stimuli-responsive materials – organic conducting polymers and carbons; used in diverse applications of Energy and Health.
IPRI has been the lead node of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) since 2004. The Federal Government funded ACES with over $44 million (2004-2020) to translate materials science knowledge into practical, game-changing devices that will have a significant impact in the areas of diagnostics, energy, health and soft robotics. This has necessitated the parallel development of additive fabrication tools, in partnership with the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF).
IPRI and its role as the head of the Materials Node of ANFF, has enabled the creation of a national capability for the 2D and 3D printing of functional electromaterials. Rapid advances have been made possible through the integration of fundamental materials science research with cutting-edge approaches to fabrication, including 3D printing.
This has been further enhanced with the establishment at UOW of the Translational Research Initiative for Cell Engineering and Printing (TRICEP) in 2018, a world-leading initiative for 3D bioprinting encompassing bioink, bioprinter and bioprinting process development. Benefits for the community include the development of new industries and manufacturing opportunities around the next generation of energy and medical devices.
IPRI also has an established presence at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne. Activities in this satellite laboratory are led by UOW staff members Professor Robert Kapsa with critical inputs from Dr Anita Quigley. As a result of this presence, IPRI and ANFF members as well as ACES collaborators, were at the forefront in developing the 3D bioprinting revolution within BioFab3D@ACMD (Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery). This facility, officially opened 6 August 2016 and is Australia's first robotics and biomedical engineering centre, embedded within a hospital.