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On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced more than $4.5 million in funding for two Monash University-led projects that will enable the discovery of new materials to drive the global transition to a sustainable energy future.

Announced 14 December 2020, ARENA will contribute vital funding for Monash to establish a $7 million world-leading facility at the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication to accelerate the development of new materials through both vacuum and printing processes.

The facility, made available through the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP), will significantly bolster Australia’s competitiveness in the development of next-generation solar cells, solar fuels, as well as batteries and various other types of new energy technologies.

A team led by¬†Professor Udo Bach, Professor of Chemical Engineering at Monash University and a Chief Investigator of the¬†ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science, received $3.9 million in funding to establish a dedicated ‘High Throughput Solution-Processable Photovoltaic Materials Discovery Facility’.

This materials discovery tool will bring together advanced robotics, automation and artificial intelligence concepts to rapidly synthesise, deposit and test the properties of new generations of printable and ‘paint on’ energy materials.

The new facility will be able to run autonomously for 24 hours, continuously making and characterising thin film coatings. This will allow future users to speed up their experimental throughput by at least 100 times compared to conventional research practices. Ongoing research into perovskites – an emerging material for next generation solar cells – will be a major focus.

Professor Nico Voelcker, Director of the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN), said: ‚ÄúThe MCN is very proud to house these transformative materials discovery tools. The exciting research that they underpin fits squarely within the Victorian Node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility’s strategy to foster and facilitate translational innovations in nanofabrication for the energy and medtech sectors.‚Äù

Read the original announcement on the Monash University website.