June 2017

20 APAC / June 2017 , 1704AP12 Translational Research in Materials Science The ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science is a national research centre with global connectivity. We invited director, Professor GordonWallace to tell us more about the organisation’s mission, teamand key projects. The ACES team, headquartered at the University of Wollongong, Australia, engage in fundamental materials science research and develop novel fabrication protocols to ensure the knowledge accrued is translated into practical energy and health devices. When discussing their research into clinical solutions, Gordon highlights the development of biomaterial compositions and bioprinters. “Here at ACES, we have developed biomaterial compositions that are printable and provide an appropriate chemical and mechanical environment to induce cartilage fabrication from adipose (fat) stem cells. “We’re also working on improving islet cell transplantation, which is a recognised therapy to treat type one diabetes. In our work, we are developing a bioink formulation and new printing technologies to ensure protection of the islet cells during transplantation and improve viability and efficacy after that.” Gordon explained that the partnership between ACES and the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF), is critical to the translation of fundamental research discoveries into practical devices and solutions. “The ANFF Materials Node is also directed from the University of Wollongong. Working alongside ACES this node brings the ability to scale materials synthesis to levels that provide quantities necessary for development and optimisation of structure and device fabrication. “The ANFF Materials Node also brings expertise in mechatronic engineering to enable the design and development of new 3D printed technologies based on novel machinery.” In 2014 the Federal Government funded ACES through the Australian Research Council to turn their knowledge into the next generation of ‘smart devices’. ACES expects to have an impact on a diverse range of areas including artificial muscles, nerve cell communication systems, electronic textiles and plastic solar cells. “Our mission is to expand upon our reputation in electromaterials science internationally. Alongside this we aim to explore the science of nanomaterials having an electron or charge transfer functionality; to prepare such nanomaterials, study and develop theories for their behaviour and exploit these new behaviours in a number of selected applications. “As for ACES objectives, we aim to create new nanostructured materials based on organic materials. Another objective is to develop and apply theory and computer modelling techniques in order to understand the structure and transport behaviour of nanocomponents and nano-assemblies. Also, ACES hopes to determine the effect of nanostructure on ion transport as it relates to ionic conductivity in solids and ionic liquids. Our final objective is to apply this knowledge and fabrication protocols to deliver greatly enhanced performance for energy conversion/ storage systems and novel energy transfer systems in bioapplications.” ACES is housed in state-of- the-art, purpose built research and development facilities established at Wollongong’s Innovation Campus. “The facilities are suitable for materials synthesis, processing and device fabrication and also contain appropriate biological laboratory space. Under the same roof we have installed state-of-the-art commercial 3D polymer and metal printing, and developed new printing approaches to print living cells. “ACES is made up of highly talented individuals committed to a common vision – taking fundamental, breakthrough, materials research into real applications to the benefit of the communities we work for.” Looking ahead, Gordon said that collaboration will continue to be critical to the centre’s success. “ACES has established a vibrant clinical network that spans across Australia, for example our clinical partnerships with Dr Payal Mukherjee (RPA Institute of Surgery/Sydney Adventist Hospital) to develop 3D printing techniques for prosthetic ears and Professor Chris Barker (St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne) to develop 3D printed scaffolds for wound healing. “In addition to the projects mentioned, we are also using advances in biomaterials and additive fabrication to tackle medical conditions such as sleep apnoea and glaucoma as well as corneal and nerve/muscle regeneration. We are using the combined expertise of ACES and ANFF (Materials Node) to enable fundamental explorations into environmental effects on the development of stem cells to gain insights into diseases such as epilepsy and schizophrenia. “Collaboration is critical to success. We are unable to tackle such complex issues without the convergence of personnel with skills in materials science/ engineering, cell biology, mechatronics, engineering and clinicians.” Do you have a clinical or energy challenge? Contact ACES and ANFF Materials Node Director, Prof Gordon Wallace, on [email protected] uow.edu.au or 02 4221 3127 electromaterials.edu.au