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Established in 1990 UOW’s Intelligent Polymer Research Institute (IPRI), now based at the Innovation Campus, has grown from a small group of researchers to an internationally recognised research group.
The group pioneered the concept of intelligent polymers demonstrating that the design and synthesis of polymer structures capable of recognising specific stimuli and responding in a way that improved performance was possible.
An example relevant to local industry involves the detection of the onset of corrosion and the release of corrosion inhibitors.
Along the way, IPRI has developed a number of innovative sensing technologies including a unique electrochemical immuno assay wherein they demonstrated that complex biomolecular interactions could be controlled using electrical stimuli. This has been used to develop assays of biological and environmental significance.
In addition, researchers have been working with a range of actuation systems including some of the world’s best artificial muscles that involve polymer structures responding to electrical stimuli to generate significant movement/force.
These advances are finding application in the development of a rehabilitation glove and the lymphoedemia sleeve. Women suffering from painful swelling of the arms as a result of breast cancer could soon feel relief thanks to the innovative sleeve being developed by IPRI and funded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
IPRI has acted as the lead node in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science under the leadership of Professor Gordon Wallace. Building on expertise developed during the 1990s IPRI has created strategic national collaborations.
Professor Wallace highlighted new solar cell technologies currently being developed by the CRC polymers and Vicos, new polymeric catalyst systems for water splitting to generate hydrogen and oxygen from water and new electrodes for energy storage being developed in collaboration with CapXX.
“And there are new materials for an advanced cochlear implant electrode and for nerve/muscle regeneration for controlled drug delivery into the brain for epilepsy.”
He said IPRI’s enduring success has been made possible by the assembly of a highly talented group of individuals over a sustained period.
”Leaders in their own fields of research who have come together under a common vision.This group has developed a highly effective collaborative research culture that is based on a trust that inspires confidence,” Professor Wallace said.
A number of highly talented PhD students ( more than 60) has passed though the ranks of IPRI and gone on to make significant contributions to science, business, teaching and science communication.
“We have established a scientific platform, facilities and a research culture that will enable us to continue to push back the scientific boundaries for the next 21 years,” Professor Wallace said.
Click here for the events photo album available on the ACES - ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science Facebook page.