World-class UNSW scientists recognized with ARC Industry Laureate Fellowships

UNSW Sydney academics have secured two of the eight Industry Laureate Fellowships announced by the Australian Research Council (ARC). The new scheme brings together industry and outstanding Australian researchers to translate innovative ideas into results that benefit industry partners, end users and the Australian economy. The eight fellows will share $27 million to conduct research projects over five years.

Professor Nicholas Fisk, Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, said these grants are like hen’s teeth with only a 7% success rate nationwide. UNSW’s strong result in the first round of funding for this new program solidly validates the university’s focus on collaborating with industry to translate research into tangible results. Indeed, in the three new classes of ARC Industry Scholarships (Initial, Intermediate, and Senior Career) announced in the past two weeks, UNSW finished second in the country, securing $11.9 million, or 16% of the national total.

None are more deserving than these two leaders in fields whose work will be of real benefit to the nation and society at large. We are very proud of Alexander and Veena for winning these highly competitive grants and know they will nurture the collaboration while contributing their invaluable marketing and translation skills.

New silicon quantum computing technology

UNSW Science Scientia Professor Alexander Hamilton was awarded nearly $3.8 million for the Unleashing the combined power of electrons and holes for quantum computing project.

Large-scale quantum computers promise unprecedented power with applications ranging from searching for images and videos in large databases to optimizing traffic routing, encryption and simulation of advanced new materials and drug designs, said the Professor Hamilton.

Read more: UNSW researchers have awarded more than $2.3 million to build research infrastructure

The Fellowship will partner with Diraq, a spin-off company from UNSW based on the Kensington campus. Diraq is developing breakthrough new silicon quantum computing technology to solve key problems in the race to scale from small-scale prototypes to industrially relevant quantum computers.

The project will integrate electron and hole semiconductors into a single platform, connect with industrial partners and strengthen Australia’s leadership position in quantum computing technologies, said Professor Hamilton.

Turning e-waste into green metals

Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla, director of the UNSW Center for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMART@UNSW), the ARC Research Hub for Microrecycling of Battery and Consumer Waste, and the NESP Sustainable Communities and Waste Hub, received 3.5 million dollars for the Recycling Innovations project to turn e-waste into green metals.

The project will develop new approaches to using waste as a resource by enabling the recovery of precious metal alloys, rare earth elements and other critical materials that have high market value. This approach will provide the basis for the recovery of high-value materials to enhance supply networks for local manufacturing and open export market opportunities for the new technology and related recovered materials.

Read more: ARC Microrecycling Research Hub opens at UNSW Sydney

I am delighted that we were able to secure this ARC Laureate Fellowship with our industry partners, who along with me and the UNSW SMaRT Center team have pledged to advance our micro-recycling technologies to produce some of the needed green metals from waste in the world’s decarbonisation efforts, Professor Sahajwalla said.

The materials needed to meet future production needs, and in particular the components for electrification, are limited in supply and very expensive for the environment. Yet huge quantities of these much-needed materials are discarded in mountains of e-waste and solar PV.

Our ARC Industry Laureate Green Metals program will develop new technologies to recover the intrinsically precious metals in complex waste streams not currently recycled. These technologies will be scalable and portable, capable of being used in rural and regional sites, not just urban areas.

Building skills and networks

ARC Chief Executive Officer Judi Zielke PSM said the Industry Laureate Fellowships will help build expertise and networks between academia and industry to conduct innovative and internationally competitive research, yielding tangible results.

Complementing the early and mid-career Industry Fellowship programs, these outstanding award-winning researchers bring experience and leadership to industry challenges, Zielke said.

I look forward to seeing how these researchers translate their skills and knowledge into real results for industry partners and the Australian community, from accelerating decarbonisation with green hydrogen, to producing material that will transform the speed of the internet .

Australia can only benefit from collaboration between researchers and industry.

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