Friday 26 August 6 pm Presbyterian Community Centre, Tenby St. $5 admission.

MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced materials and Nanotechnology – Regional Lecture Series.

Dr. Duncan McGillivray, School of Chemical Sciences, University of Auckland.
Dr. Natalie Plank, School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington.

For over 200,000 years humans used stone hand adzes, and the design hardly changed. It seems homo sapiens sapiens is by nature conservative. But eventually, some stone age entrepreneur attached a wooden shaft to the adze, multiplying its power, and no doubt vastly reducing mortality rates among hunters.

We define the periods of civilisation by the dominant material of the age: stone, bronze, iron. In the last two centuries, our cities have been raised to astounding heights with steel and reinforced concrete. We communicate between those cities at the speed of light, thanks to silicon – the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. And our consumer world is throw-away plastic.

What comes next, now that nanotechnologists are creating new materials from the atoms up, and are able to copy nature’s self-assembling architecture? Are we entering The Great Graphene Age? We are ourselves walking miracles of carbon construction.

Get the big picture from the nanotechnologists and materials scientists from the MacDiarmid Institute, a national centre of research excellence.

Duncan McGillivray
Duncan McGillivray is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland who trained in neutron and X-ray scattering in the UK and USA, before returning to set-up a research group in New Zealand. His undergraduate was at the University of Auckland and the Australian National University, and he completed his doctorate at Oxford University looking at surfactant structures using neutrons. Later he served a post-doctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins and Carnegie Mellon Universities, jointly with the NIST Center for Neutron Research, developing a biomimetic membrane system and investigating protein-membrane interactions.

Duncan’s current research is focused on understanding the physical bases of biological interactions at surfaces, particularly through investigating the structure of complex non-crystalline protein systems (including membrane proteins and protein colloids), primarily making use of the Australian Synchrotron and the OPAL Research Reactor in Sydney.

Natalie Plank
Dr Natalie Plank is a Lecturer in Physics in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington. Natalie completed a BSc (Hons) in Astrophysics at The University of Edinburgh before doing an MSc in Microelectronics. She then completed her PhD on the functionalisation of carbon nanotubes for molecular electronics with Rebecca Cheung also at The University of Edinburgh.

Natalie’s research interests are in the area of nanomaterial device fabrication and the characterisation of novel materials. Her current work focuses on nanomaterial device platforms for sensing technology. She is interested in carbon nanotubes and ZnO nanowires for nanowire transistor applications and in particular the ability to functionalise the nanomaterial channels with specific biomarkers. Natalie’s core interests are in low cost fabrication techniques which allow for high throughput of devices whilst maintaining the particular material properties of the unique nanowire system. This has been particularly important for device fabrication for both carbon nanotubes and ZnO nanowire transistors, where flexible electronics have huge potential. See the full publications list for more details.