- What do scientists and engineers work on at IFM?
- What sort of people are they and how did they come to be research scientists?
- What range of projects do IFM researchers get involved in?
To find out the answers to these questions we interviewed four scientists working in different areas of IFM, asking them about their backgrounds, their projects, and what sort of things they do as researchers. The 7.5 minute video can be viewed by clicking on the image below:
Below is a brief description of their work.
Dr Ben Allardyce is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Silk Biomaterials at the Deakin University Institute for Frontier Materials. His undergraduate studies were in biological science. He is working on a project to develop fine silk membranes to replace damaged eardrums. While eardrums are generally very resilient, they may develop chronic perforations that require graft surgery to repair. Current graft materials are taken from other parts of the body, and may not have the strength required, or acoustic properties similar to an eardrum. The silk membranes have a number of favourable properties – they are thin and able to vibrate like the natural eardrum, biocompatible, strong enough to resist inner ear pressure, they biodegrade when the eardrum is regenerated, and are easy to shape and manipulate during surgery. Ben has been trying to develop silk films that closely mimic the vibrations of the human eardrum. The next stage will be to test the membranes in human clinical trials.
Dr Mandy De Souza is a Research Fellow in Carbon Fibres at the Deakin University Institute for Frontier Materials. Her undergraduate studies were in engineering. She works on the characterisation and optimisation of carbon fibre properties and the development of carbon fibres for the automotive industry. She also works on the design and development of automotive components made from carbon fibre. A key driver of her current work is the need for rapid curing of carbon fibre components. Curing is an important step in the production of carbon fibre components, and has traditionally been the slowest step, normally taking hours or days. To be useful in commercial automotive applications, components made from carbon fibre need to be produced in very short times. Car makers speak of a car rolling off the production line every ‘36 seconds’ – hence this is the curing time target that many carbon fibre researchers, including Mandy, are working towards.
Dr Matt Jennings was a PhD candidate at the Deakin University Institute for Frontier Materials. He has now graduated. His undergraduate studies were in engineering. His PhD studies were an investigation into how heating rates during the curing process for the production of a carbon fibre sandwich structure affected the strength properties of the completed structure. He also worked at the Carbon Nexus facility, part of the Deakin University Institute for Frontier Materials, as part of a team assessing the feasibility of replacing a car component currently made of steel with one made of carbon fibre. The team developed a prototype part that was half of the weight of the steel version, and demonstrated that it would be suitable for high volume production. Following the completion of his PhD work, Matt has taken a role as a Materials and Process Development Engineer at Quickstep Holdings, an Australian company that has developed an innovative process for the rapid curing of carbon fibre products. Matt’s research is described in more detail in a separate tab, and the activities in this module relate to his research.
Dr Maryam Naebe is a Research Fellow in Fibre Science & Technology at the Deakin University Institute for Frontier Materials. Her undergraduate studies were in textile science. She has worked in a range of projects investigating the properties and uses of natural fibres, including wool and cotton, which are important materials grown in Australia. Her current work is investigating the incorporation of cotton into athletic compression garments. These garments are generally made of synthetic fibres such as polyester and nylon. While these synthetic fibres are elastic and provide the compression that is desirable in athletic applications, natural fibres like cotton have superior breathability, moisture control and thermal conductivity. Maryam hopes that following success in incorporating cotton into athletic garments, that cotton will also find its way into medical applications, where there is also an important need for comfortable compression garments for post-operative use.