Hub Director Xungai Wang opening the Symposium

The 2nd Future Fibres Symposium was held at Deakin University on 6/7th August. The event provided an opportunity for Hub members to come together to share research updates, catch-up with each other, and learn from some international guest speakers.

Day One

Day one was open to other attendees with 130 people registering for the event. It was a fantastic opportunity to hear from three excellent keynote speakers who shared their latest research on a diverse range of topics. Professor David Kisailus from University of California, Riverside, gave the first keynote presentation on “Convergent evolution to engineering: Fibre assembly, templating and toughening in bio-composite and biomimetic materials”. He wowed the audience with images and videos of some fascinating behaviours shown in the animal kingdom, and how learning more about the unique materials and structures that allow these behaviours can lead to the development of advanced materials.

Second keynote was Professor Jeff Wiggins, University of Southern Mississippi and Hub partner investigator who have a lecture on “Evolution of carbon fibre morphology: PAN precursor design considerations”. Jeff discussed the effects of different PAN properties (molecular weight, polydispersity, copolymer composition and sequence) on the resulting carbon fibre, and the work his group is doing on incorporating acrylamide co-monomers to direct fibre morphology. He also introduced the use of semi-batch RAFT polymerization to make PAN and shared some data on the effect the type of polymerization has on a range of properties including stabilization extent, heat flow, and cyclization.

 

Keynote speaker Professor David Kisailus

The third keynote speaker was Professor Wenlong Cheng from Monash University who spoke on “Skin-like wearable technology”. He discussed several projects being undertaken in his group. We were introduced to the use of ultra-thin gold nanowires to fabricate a highly sensitive pressure sensor. The use of such fine metal nanowires allows elastic wearable sensors to be fabricated (e-Skins). Wenlong showed how these can be used to monitor pulse, body motion and real-time hand gestures.

The afternoon of day one started with three of the Hub PhD students giving presentations on their projects: Beini on “An up-cycling approach for waste denim”, Mina on “Fibrous silk fibroin aerogels: preparation and application” and Saman on “Residual stress in carbon fibre reinforced composites and its impact on fatigue life”. This was followed by updates from our Hub research programs, in particular presentations from our industry partners gave great insight into each company. Dr Murray Height (CEO/CSO, HeiQ) and Dr Alessandra Sutti (Deakin) gave an update on the short polymer fibre (SPFs) research program. In particular introducing the unique properties of SPFs, and their application into the textile treatment market. Dr Ashley Denmead (Engineering & Design Director), shared an update on Carbon Revolution. It was fascinating to see the company’s progression from a garage to the soon-to-be-opened expansion of their manufacturing facility at Waurn Ponds. Dr Salwan Al-Assafi (Research Manager) shared an update from

Hub industry partner A/Prof Rod Dilley from Ear Science Institute Australia

Quickstep, also highlighting how the company has changed over the last few years, and in particular demonstrating how Hub research has impacted the performance of their Qure production process.

Watching a motorcycle rider walk away from a horrific collision with a truck was a very powerful demonstration of the impact Draggin Jeans’ protective apparel has on the safety of riders. Dr Chris Hurren (Deakin) talked us through the changes in protective clothing quality assessment being introduced in Europe and the effect it will have on the quality of garments likely to be offered to the market. Finally, A/Prof Rod Dilley from the Ear Science Institute Australia (ESIA) talked us through some history of using tissue engineering to repair eardrums. Rod was followed by Dr Ben Allardyce (Deakin) who updated us on 3D printing of silk.

The day was rounded out with two other presentations. One introduced us to the ARC Training Centre in Lightweight Automotive Structures (ATLAS). There are several CIs and one industry partner (Quickstep) who overlap

between the Fibres Hub and ATLAS so it was great to start a dialogue on synergies between the two entities. Finally, Dr Alex Qin presented on “Novel fibres for energy storage and sensing” – showing some of the recent work done by the Deakin team on producing super-conducting yarns which can power a timer or a watch, and turning “not-so-wearable” devices into wearable devices.

 

The first day ended with networking drinks and dinner for Hub members, and the chance for further discussions.

Day Two

The second day of the Symposium was closed to Hub members and associate members only. This allowed for sharing confidential information and more detailed discussions. The day consisted of Hub researchers sharing updates on their industry-focused projects which span from short polymer fibre production and application, to carbon fibre composites and production processes, and to protective denim and silk biomaterials.

After lunch an interactive and informative session on communications and networking encouraged researchers to think about an elevator pitch for their research project, and provided some skills and confidence in how to effectively communicate. The Symposium ended with afternoon tea and the opportunity for Hub members to mingle and practice their networking skills over a pool table.