The Department has an excellent international reputation for ground breaking research in a variety of areas including:

image of a 3d scan of a bee's brain
  • Theoretical modelling and direct measurement of the minute molecular forces between surfaces and the assessment of the properties of a variety of surfactants. The Department is a world leader in the design and construction of complex instruments to measure these forces and has sold its ANU-designed surface forces apparatus to over twenty-five laboratories around the world.
  • The flow properties of porous media such as oil-bearing rocks or paper. Improved understanding of the physics of such processes has applications ranging from the petrochemical industries to the design of bubble jet printer inks and papers. This work has lead to many industry collaborations and membership of the CRC for Functional Communication Surfaces.
  • The study of the enigmatic processes of long range ordering, which for example, enables animals like the sea urchin to construct a skeleton out of polycrystaline elements which collectively exhibit some single crystal properties. Biomineralisation has also many potential commercial applications such as the production of low temperature super ceramics as well as wider scientific implications such as the search for Martian life.
  • Complex fluids such as liquid crystals, the properties of polymers and the folding of DNA molecules.

Research themes

  • Porous and disordered materials
  • Surface science and interfacial forces
  • Soft matter and self assembly
  • Crystalline and Complex Networks

Updated:  17 August 2017/ Responsible Officer:  Head of Department/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster