Want a watch that’s flexible and paper-thin? Or a phone that bends, not breaks? Researchers at RMIT University are working on micro technology to use in macro products.
It’s this pioneering work that has put the Micro Nano Research Facility at the forefront of tiny technology. Thanks to Associate Professor Sharath Sriram and a research group of 25 others, nanotechnology is becoming a big deal.
Sriram works in a world one billionth the size of ours. He and his team developed the world’s first artificial memory cell that mimics the way the brain stores long-term memory. It’s leading-edge technology that Sriram says is the reason he chose to study and work at RMIT.
He began studying his Master of Engineering and went on to a PhD and research that has "defined my career".
"The PhD has led to bigger and better things - most significantly, everything at RMIT to-date.
"I work on materials that are extremely thin layers, thinner than a sheet of paper. At such scales, we can modify materials to unlock exceptional properties. For example, a few missing oxygen atoms in an oxide (glass-like) material can result in completely new functionalities.
"I look to harness interesting properties to make the next generation of electronic devices."
These devices can be applied to energy-efficient electronics, creating complex memory technology and the bionic brain, wearable sensors to detect environment and health, among others.
"Quite simply, within our team, we work to make science fiction a reality.
"RMIT is an invigorating place to work in with a good amount of flexibility to pursue bold ideas. It is an environment where sharing resources, equipment and ideas are the norm. A lack of barriers enables us to pursue bold, risky projects."
The best research outcomes are rarely achieved by individuals, but by teams.
"Every major recognition of my team members makes me proud, with us receiving over 50 awards in the past five or six years."
Siriam also earned last year’s Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science -- a testament to both his research outcomes and leadership.
Story: Jane Kenrick