ARC Nanotechnology Network
Global Innovative Center for Advanced Nanomaterials

Global Innovative Center for Advanced Nanomaterials

Name of Group Leader:

Prof. Ajayan Vinu  

Physical Address:

The University of Newcastle (UON)
University Drive, Callaghan NSW 2308 Australia


+61 2 4921 8669  


Nanotechnology Research Programs/Activities:

Research themes
At the forefront of developing state-of-the-art and cost-effective technologies, GICAN is developing advanced nanostructures for various applications across the extensive energy, environment and health sectors.

The nanomaterials created by the Centre include 0D, 1D, 2D and 3D nanostructures that are both with and without ordered porosity along with tunable electronic, catalytic, sensing, magnetic and textural properties. These materials can be used in various applications including carbon capture and conversion, H2 generation, catalysis, energy generation, conversion and energy storage devices such as supercapacitor, battery, solar cells, along with toxic molecule sensing, wastewater treatment and soil remediation, targeted drug delivery and cancer research. The Centre is working in collaboration with leading researchers across the globe along with renowned universities, institutions and key industry players to solve some of the greatest challenges in the following research areas:

Advanced Materials
Mesoporous Materials
One of the significant research priorities of the Centre is to develop new multi-dimensional (0D, 1D and 2D) advanced functional mesoporous materials. This includes materials constructed from mesoporous nitrides including carbon nitrides with different stoichiometry and variable nitrogen content, BN, BCN, AlN, GaN, InN, TiN, mesoporous carbons, mesoporous fullerenes, mesoporous polymers, porous conducting polymers, and porous carbons derived from biomass waste, mesoporous metal chalcogenides, mesoporous metals, mesoporous alloys and nanoparticles.

These materials comprise different metal compositions, sizes and shapes and feature halloysite templated porous carbon materials and a host of new porous hybrid nanomaterials. When tested, these materials have multiple functionalities and applications in the area of energy generation and storage devices such as batteries, supercapacitors, fuel cells, carbon capture and conversion, and biomedical applications including drug delivery, nanomedicine and cancer treatments. These innovative mesoporous materials developed by GICAN researchers can be characterised using an array of the Centre’s highly sophisticated instruments and facilities which are able to deliver experimental findings to substantiate by theoretical calculations and simulations.

Low Dimensional Hybrid Materials
In addition to the research on mesoporous materials, Centre researchers are focused on developing 0D/1D/2D/3D nano-hybrid materials. This dimension of nanomaterials is often less than 10nm, which is sufficient to create novel physicochemical properties of nano-hybrid materials from a synergistic coupling between the components.

The development of these nano-hybrid materials is aided by the extensive infrastructure housed within the Centre, enabling researchers to characterise the unique properties of nano-hybrid materials and explore their advanced functionality to expand the scope of application in the areas of energy and environment research.

Energy Generation & Heterogeneous Catalysis
The Centre is working to develop new heterogeneous catalysts that will have industrial application when utilised in conjunction with relevant chemical reactionary processes, as well as in the development of photocatalysts that can be utilised for more efficient energy generation of H2 by using a combination of water and sunlight as the only external inputs.

Expanding upon this critical heterogeneous catalysis research capacity, the Centre has developed a technique involving the application of novel metal and metal oxide mesoporous carbon as a nitride-based catalyst for the synthesis of fine chemicals and CO2 utilisation. Further to this, the Centre is undertaking solid acid catalyses research using zeolites such as hydro-treatment from long-chain alkenes for application in the petro-refining and petrochemical industries. The principles of this solid catalysis can also be applied to the environmentally benign syntheses of fine-chemical and pharmaceutical compounds. The new products obtained through these processes are analysed and quantified using the advanced gas chromatographs (GC), mass spectrometers (MS) and HPLCs facilities housed within the Centre.

Photocatalytic H2 Generation
The Centre is investigating the intricate processes of photocatalytic H2 generation utilising a range of novel functionalised photocatalysts developed by GICAN’s leading material researchers. Housing eight independently operated and custom designed water and CO2 splitting systems, the Centre’s specialised facilities and laboratory equipment is able to provide closed-loop analysis of evolved gaseous reaction products. Following this detailed analysis, researchers design novel photocatalysts in conjunction with in-depth theoretical calculations and experimental data to substantiate the theoretical predictions. The Centre’s specialised H2 generation units facilitate rapid research output which is essential for faster testing processes, as well as highlighting a pathway for commercialisation.

Energy Storage
At the forefront of developing inexpensive energy storage devices, the Centre has designed many advanced technologies such as electrode materials for creating more efficient Li, Na, Ca, K, Mg, Al-ion and Li-S batteries, supercapacitor and fuel cells. Building on these innovative research technologies, GICAN researchers are investigating how electrode materials can be manufactured using low cost and readily available raw materials such as waste biomass, discarded dairy products and soft drinks to develop sustainable energy storage devices, shifting away from fossil-fuelled energy sources.

The Centre’s research capacity in the energy storage arena is supported by the unique equipment and laboratory facilities which includes a four gloves argon glovebox, 100 channel battery cycler, potentiostats, and a fuel cell testing system for designing and analysing the performance of electrode materials, which has applications in the next generation of secondary batteries, supercapacitor and fuel cell devices.

Carbon Capture and Storage, Environmental Remediation, and Climate Change
The Centre is working to develop nanomaterial technologies that have major uses in environmental remediation. These new technologies have the potential to improve the processes for carbon capture and storage, soil remediation and wastewater treatment. In addition to developing these low-cost materials, the Centre is producing ultra-high surface area advanced functional biocarbons that have application in adsorbent material for pre and posts combustion CO2capture, soil decontamination and wastewater treatment.

GICAN researchers are also exploring pathways to develop a nanomaterial-based fertilizer delivery system that will in effect increase the productivity of soils and improve overall agriculture yield. In collaboration with wine manufacturers in the Hunter Region of NSW as well as with mining and mineral industry partners across Australia, the Centre is developing robust and economically sustainable technologies that will assist the discovery of solutions to the effects of global warming caused by greenhouse gases, water contamination and soil degradation. These new sustainable solutions will have positive flow-on effects and impacts on communities across Australia, who are significantly affected by the impacts of climate change.

Drug Delivery System
GICAN researchers are currently investigating how novel multifunctional nanomaterials can be used in imaging processes associated with various cancer detection and treatment techniques. This novel technology utilises functionalised core-shell silica nanoparticles for precise delivery of drug treatments, as well as acts as a tool for early screening and identification of potential cancer cells. In addition to this, the extensive infrastructure and facilities within the Centre allow researchers to undertake in-vivo and in-vitro studies and has laboratory capacity to grow stem cells in a controlled environment  

Scale of Nanotechnology Research Effort:

Around 50 researchers including students, research fellows, assistant professors, associate professors, and visiting researchers. The annual budget is more than 5 Million AUD  

Nanotechnology research facilities:

Powder X-ray Diffraction - Low and high angle, power and think films, high energy
High pressure CO2 and hydrogen adsorption system
Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy - EDX, Elemental mapping
Quantum Design - PPMS - 9 tesla
QCM-multi sampler
TGA-DSC connected with FT-IR
Ball milling
Nanogrinder - milling
High pressure reactor system with online GCs - 2 Nos.
CVD system
CV - CH instruments - 760 D - Electrochemical workstation
8-Channel Battery Cycler for electrochemical measurements
100 Channel Battery Cycler from wonatech
100 Channel Batttery Cycler system from
3 Oxygen Reduction Research test unit
High pressure parallel reactors – ca 15 Nos.
3A Class Solar Simulator with QE/IPCE Kit
Four-port glove box with oxygen and moisture sensing
Homemade water and CO2 splitting photocatalytic setup with online GC – 8 system
Micromeritics ASAP 2420 - 6 Port
BEL- Chemisorption analyser, TPD, TPO, and TPR with breakthrough system
Elemental Analyzer (CHNS&O) FLASH 2000 for both solid and liquid
GC with autosampler (Shimadzu GC-2010 Plus) - 150 Sample port
GC with manual sampler (Shimadzu GC-2010 Plus) - ca 7
Hot air ovens (Isotherm) - 5 numbers
LABEC Hot air ovens - 1 number
LABEC high-temperature tubular furnaces - 3 numbers, 3 port each
Ozone cleaner for photo functionalization (Filgen)
LABEC Muffle furnace - 3 numbers
Vacuum oven – 2 number
Vacuum evaporator
Electronic magnetic stirrers - 30 numbers
Stainless steel autoclaves with Teflon lining -30 numbers
PARR autoclaves - 120 ml and 23 ml
PARR reactor with controller and autoclave (4848)
Chino reactor and autoclave for high temp reaction - 4 numbers
Aspirator (Eyela) - 2 numbers
Julabo Water circulator
Rota vapour (Buchi) - 2 numbers
Tablet machine for electrode pressing
Weighing/analytical balance (Shimadzu) - 4 numbers
Microcentrifuge machine
pH meter
Automated melting point system (Stanford Research System)
UV chamber (UVP)
Sonication and shaking baths with temperature and time controller (Unisonic)
Perfect lab for the synthesis of nanoporous materials with 5 fume hoods



Collaboration Information


Group Websites: