A Senior Research Fellow at RMIT has been awarded the 2014 Phillip Law Postdoctoral Award for Physical Sciences.
The award is a bequest to the Royal Society of Victoria from the estate of the late Dr Phillip Garth Law AC.
Dr Bhaskaran, who is also co-director of theFunctional Materials and Microsystems Research Group, presented her award-winning research at the prize ceremony in a lecture titled, Making waves: Novel materials and devices for next generation self-powered electronics.
Her research imagines a world where smartphones recharge themselves and portable devices are transparent and unbreakable.
"While society calls for sustainable energy production, it increasingly desires technology solutions that promise smarter and more efficient devices," Dr Bhaskaran said.
"The key challenges are easy to understand but just a little harder to achieve - so far."
In her presentation, she outlined a possible set of solutions that lie in achieving energy generation by applying mechanical pressure to crystals; harnessing unique high-speed electron transport in single atomic layers of semiconductors, and creating techniques to bring varied materials together to realise functional and flexible devices.
Dr Bhaskaran said she was honoured to receive the prize from one of the oldest scientific societies in the world.
"I was grateful to the estate of Phillip Law AC for providing this prize, as it is wonderful to be recognised and to receive encouragement as an early career researcher in science," she said.
Dr Madhu Bhaskaran receives her award from Dr William Birch, President of Royal Society of Victoria.
"My work is predominantly focused on materials and devices for electronics applications and I am particularly interested in understanding how devices are made and how they operate at a micro scale.
"This interest has provided the inspiration to specialise in this field."
With her finger firmly planted on the pulse of electronics and materials technology, Dr Bhaskaran believes it won't be long before we see flexible, bendable phones and tablets in the market.
"In the field of flexible electronics, product prototypes for these consumer electronic goods are regularly being showcased by leading electronics manufacturers," she said.
"However, it is the materials and the combination in which they are used that are the main challenges.
"Some of my research has focused on combining diverse materials to enable new functionality.
"For example, we have combined high temperature processed oxide materials with polymers that can only withstand about 100 degrees Celsius, which has led to oxide-based fully transparent electronics."
Professor Calum Drummond, RMIT Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice President RMIT, attended the ceremony and was pleased to see Dr Bhaskaran acknowledged for her hard work.
"It was a pleasure to see Madhu receive her well-deserved prize," Professor Drummond said.
"Her presentation encapsulated the high quality research that she is conducting at RMIT, and the potential to deliver impact beyond the research community."
Of her future as a researcher in this area, Dr Bhaskaran said her work will continue to balance fundamental science and applied research.
"While we continue to find new material properties and functionalities, we will use existing results to demonstrate devices for sensing, electronics and optics."
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