Amanda's research interests include synthesis of novel chemically modified 2D and 3D surfaces, in particular, carbon nanotubes/nanoparticles, graphene and quantum dots. Her work focuses on carbon nanotube and zeolite functionalisation as membranes in water treatment (and desalination), capillary electrophoretic (CE) microfluidics (flow of fluids in channels, like in the capillaries in your body) for forensic applications, novel techniques of fingerprinting for forensic science, reversible addition fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerisation of nanostructured surfaces and graphene (and graphene nanomeshes) for solar cells and electrodes in environmental monitoring.
- Nanotube functionalisation has uses in such things as nanoelectronics, water treatment, sensors, nanocomposites, drug delivery and lowering cytotoxicity.
- The combination of newly developing microfluidic (µ-fluidic) technologies and existing bioassay techniques demand more rapid, sophisticated and automated analysis of analytes. An important part of these analyses is based on Capillary Electrophoretic (CE) microfluidic (µ- fluidic) devices which will make these devices more efficient and reliable. These devices are essentially all polymeric and given the right system may eventually be implantable into the human body to monitor our health. Our group also looks at using these devices to identify humans at terrorist and crime scenes.
Functional Molecular Architectures
The research we undertake is centered around the design and synthesis of functional molecular architectures. The architectures may be small or large depending on the end use of the molecular system. The design of these systems is undertaken using molecular modelling software and allows us to gain insight into the size and shape of the final architecture. Once a suitable molecular system has been identified then we use organic synthesis to construct the necessary compounds. The synthetic preparations range from simple syntheses containing only a few steps to complex strategies containing numerous difficult steps. All of the compounds synthesised are characterised using IR, UV, and NMR spectroscopy.
Surface mounted molecules
Switchable surface mounted molecules
The area is examining switchable surface mounted molecules which has many potential applications such as wettability switching of the surface and microfluidics. The work is in collaboration with Prof Ken Hipps at Washington State University. We are examining the use of host/guest complexation events in an attempt change the properties of surfaces as the result of external stimuli.
The aim is to create ordered on surfaces for use in nanotechnological applications. We synthesise various molecules that have the ability to self assemble into ordered arrays while interacting with a surface.
For example we have sysnthesised alkoxy substituted anthracene systems that self assemble on HOPG and this has recently been published in J. Phys. Chem. These molecules are then sent to Professor Kenneth Hipps (USA) for surface mounting and UHV-STM imaging.
Centre of Expertise in Energetic Materials conducts fundamental and applied research in the field of energetic materials, with a focus on defence and national security. The Centre represents an exciting combination of the synthetic and characterisation capabilities of Flinders, the energetic material expertise and infrastructure of DST Group, and also academic and industry approaches. Its director is Flinders University's Associate Professor Stewart Walker.
Lipid Bilayer Architectures
These structures can be attached to solid supports and then used to incorporate membrane proteins and study their function. The solid support allows for the application of various surface sensitive techniques, especially surface plasmon resonance (SPR) spectroscopy and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. However, we also make use of other techniques, such as neutron scattering.
Molecular dynamics is an area at the interface between chemistry and physics. The goal in this field is to gain a detailed understanding of chemical and physical processes at the molecular level.
Potentially Portable Technologies
The emphasis of my group's research is on the development and rapid, reliable and potentially portable technologies for automated chemical measurement in industrial, medical, forensic and environmental areas. This research will target the development of simple instrumentation and/or novel chemistries for the analysis of a variety of compounds including inorganic and organic analytes.
Current projects within my research group involve external collaboration with DST Group, FSSA, SA Museum and Deakin University, along with internal collaboration with other Flinders researchers and include:
- Separations based on Capillary electrophoresis with applications in forensic and environmental chemistry
- Analysis of explosives and their residues
- Analysis of minerals
- Analysis of artworks
- Analytical applications of chemiluminescence
Synthesis of Natural Products
The search for new drugs, with unique activities to combat the ever increasing strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria and to provide better treatments for diseases from cancer to AIDS, is an important international research area. This search has driven the chemical investigation of a huge range of terrestrial and aquatic organisms leading to the isolation of a vast array of novel chemical structures varying from rather simple to enormously complex. The amount of the compounds isolated from the organisms is usually minute and for this reason laboratory synthesis, where possible, is the only way to obtain sufficient compound for comprehensive biological testing. Furthermore, these syntheses must be highly stereoselective, as any biological function the compounds exhibit is critically dependent on their three dimensional shape. This basic idea has inspired the Perkins research group to develop new stereoselective synthetic methodologies for the total synthesis of novel structures. This research has resulted in the total synthesis of (-)-membrenone-A, -B and -C, two metabolites from Siphonaria australis, the putative structure of tridachiahydropyrone, (-)-maurenone and auripyrone-A.
Our research program is focused on the stereo-selective synthesis of certain polypropionates. Polypropionates are typified by the macrolide antibiotics and many of these compounds have medical applications. This class includes a number of compounds isolated from marine molluscs (examples include auripyrone, dolabriferol, the tridachiapyrones and the membrenones), and the biological activity often exhibited by these compounds makes them important targets for stereoselective synthesis. These natural products are characterised by possessing highly oxygenated linear carbon chains, with methylation at alternate carbons. The current synthetic targets in the Perkins laboratory include a number of the tridachiones, auripyrone-B, ascosalipyrone, the spiculoic acids and dolabriferol.
The focus of my research is in radioanalytical chemistry, or the application of nuclear and radiochemical analytical methodologies. Primary applications include archaeological science, mineralogical and environmental applications. The techniques I use include neutron activation analysis (NAA), particle induced X-ray emission (PIXE) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) along with analytical techniques such as IR spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy and others. My projects are in partnership with colleagues at Flinders University, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO, located in Sydney), South Australian Museum and Artlab.
Smart Surface Structures
The Smart Surface Structures research group at Flinders is primarily interested in technology enabling surface architectures, which are achieved through exploiting the physics and chemistry of surfaces and interfaces. We seek to understand atomic and molecular mechanisms that take place and with knowledge of these, produce enhanced interfaces with properties tailored and optimised for their specific application. At the moment, our group's research effort is concentrated in the following areas
- Atomic and Molecular Surface Nanostructures - Nanoscale surface phenomena, mechanisms of assembly, structural transitions and kinetic processes in atomic and molecular surface clusters, nanoparticles and thin films
- Surface Attachment - supporting structures for sensor design materials
- Surface Modification - tailoring the chemical, physical and mechanical properties of surfaces and interfaces for compatibility in their specific application
- Corrosion protection - alternatives to currently used, hazardous, inorganic treatments
- Novel Photovoltaics - building new architectures for harvesting solar power
- Catalysis - the influence of morphology and particle size upon catalytic behaviour of surfaces
- Polymer Physics - the influence of crystallinity and morphology on material properties
- Molecular Electronics - aimed at producing atomic and molecular-scale wires on surfaces and involves a range of spectroscopic and surface science techniques, such as (but not limited to) electron spectroscopy (XPS, UPS, AES), streaming zeta-potential measurement (SZP), mass spectrometry (ToFSIMS), scanning probe microscopies (STM, AFM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Raman confocal microscopy and synchrotron measurements.
Our group is actively engaged in the following research areas
- Functionalised carbon surfaces (graphite, nanotubes, diamond, glassy carbon)
- Understanding and controlling molecular self-assembly processes (eg orientation)
- Determination of the adsorbate adhesion energy of surface-bound species
- Environmentally superior corrosion protection coatings
- Fabrication of improved solar cells
- Soft Lithographic, molecular-level controlled surface architectures
- Optically active coatings
- Surface immobilised size-selected clusters
and undertakes a number of collaborative efforts with other groups within the school, as well as other researchers outside Flinders. Some of the collaborations from outside Flinders involve people from CSIRO, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Institute for Medical and Veterinary Science (IMVS), Defence Science and Technology Group (DST Group), University of New South Wales (UNSW), Orica Mining Services, Bridge 8, University of Canterbury in NZ and the SA Museum.
Advanced Analytical Techniques
Associate Professor Stewart Walkers' research interests covers the application of advanced analytical techniques to solve problems in the areas of Analytical, Environmental, Industrial, Forensic and Medical arenas. He has undertaken collaborative research projects and forensic investigations with and for Forensic Science South Australia, Australian Federal Police, CSIRO, ACFSS (Australian Centre for Forensic Soil Science), AWRI, DST Group, International Atomic Energy Agency, United Nations Development Program, other universities and other partners.
- Laser Ablation - High Resolution - Multi Collector - ICP MS for Comparison and Profiling for Forensic and Environmental Investigations
- Electrochemical Analysis of Explosives and Drug
- Forensic Volatile Analysis of Explosives and Drug
- Environmental Forensics - Corals and Sea cucumbers
- Analysis of Coral Cores to Detect Heavy Metal Contamination
- 2 Extraction And Analysis Of Fluorescent Bands In Black Corals
- 3 Analysis of Elemental Ratios in Corals to Determine Global Warming
- and Localised Thermal Excursions
- 4) Sea Cucumbers as Bio-Monitors and Bio-Remediators
- Post-mortem decay of benzodiazepines
- Mass Spectrometry and Related Projects
- Condom Differentiation
- Early Detection of Cancer (with Flinders Medical Centre)