Professor Cole's focus is on the discovery of new materials & processes using rapid & innovative methods. These methods combine computational materials modelling & high-throughput experimental research. The foci are on corrosion protection systems, biocompatible surfaces, nanostructures for sensing and catalytic activity, and both the refinement of metal additive manufacturing processes and the surface & surface functionalities of additive components. Professor Cole has over 30 years’ experience in research in Academia, Industry, and CSIRO, and is a recognised world leader in corrosion science & multiscale modelling of corrosion & inhibition. Prof. Cole formed & grew the Rapid Discovery & Fabrication Team (RDF) to provide the critical mass to drive this research agenda. As such, Prof. Cole is extremely active in higher degree supervision and in the development of research projects & programmes.
Professor Cole’s current work on corrosion focuses on the discovery of new inhibitors & microbially induced corrosion (MIC). The inhibitor work combines computational modelling with rapid experimentation, via robotic electrochemistry, to define the molecular features that promote effect inhibition and then to use these features to scan databases for new potential inhibitors. The MIC research is focused on new laboratory methods to replicate accurately the conditions that occur in service (currently for components embedded in soil), and on innovative methods such as Quorum Sensing Inhibitors to restrict biofilm growth. Parallel to this work, the RDF Team has a strong focus on the biocompatibility & degradation of human implants.
His work on additive manufacturing has two components. The first aims to integrate in-situ sensing & modelling of metal additive manufacturing to built virtual replicas of the same process that guide process settings & process feedback to maximize the quality of builds. The second studies the quality & biocompatibility of additive surfaces in order to estimate & improve the component functionality in service. The nanostructure work is focused on the design & fabrication of nano-dots whose surface properties are optimized for fluorescence-based sensing and catalytic reactions. The application of the nanostructure work is in both the environmental & biomedical domain.
As indicated above, all Prof. Cole’s work integrates computational modelling with experimentation. The modelling work focuses on multiscale modelling to integrate molecular features & structures with properties such as electrochemical activity that manifest themselves at larger-scale domains conventionally modelled using continuum viewpoints & analysis methods. A particular focus is how to bridge this nano-gap between molecular & continuum process with an emphasis on developing computational tools that fill this space and in developing machine learning or quantitative structure-activity relationships to cross the length scale gap. A second focus of the modelling work is the integration & synthesis of data-driven process models & physics-based process models.