Professor Sarah Harmer-Bassell

Associate Professor

College of Science and Engineering

Research expertise

Sarah's research focusses on the application and development of techniques for materials characterisation. In particular, Sarah is interested in the use of spectroscopic techniques for minerals processing and the interface between bacteria and mineral surfaces.

Research expertise

Sarah's research focusses on the application and development of techniques for materials characterisation. In particular, Sarah is interested in the use of spectroscopic techniques for minerals processing and the interface between bacteria and mineral surfaces.

place Physical Sciences Building (208)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Sarah is an applied physicist with a focus on the spectroscopic analysis of surfaces. Her research uses a range of techniques, including:

  • Synchrotron X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (SXPS);
  • X-ray Absorption Near Edge Spectroscopy (XANES);
  • Photoemission Electron Microscopy (PEEM);
  • Scanning Photoelectron Microscopy (SPEM);
  • Scanning Transmision X-ray Microscopy (STXM);
  • Conventional XPS;
  • Time of Flight Secondary IonMass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS);
  • NanoSIMS.

Sarah received a PhD from the Ian Wark Research Institute, UniSA in 2003. She then accepted a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Western Ontario where her research focused on the surface electronic structure of 3d transition metal sulfide and arsenide fracture surfaces using Synchrotron X-ray photoelectron Spectroscopy (SXPS) and X-ray Absorption Near Edge Spectroscopy (XANES). Upon returning to Australia in 2005, Sarah worked in the Manufacturing & Infrastructure Technology division of CSIRO. In 2006 she returned to the Wark as a Research Fellow within the Australian Mineral Science Research Institute (AMSRI). In 2012 she took up an ARC Future Fellowship at Flinders University to study the interaction between bacteria and mineral surfaces using advanced synchrotron nanospectroscopic techniques.

Qualifications
  • Bachelor of Applied Science: UniSA (1999)
  • Doctor of Philosophy: The Ian Wark Research Institute, UniSA (2003)
Honours, awards and grants

Awards & Fellowships

  • ARC Future Fellowship 2011
  • Lumsden Award 2008
  • Australian Academy of Science Scientific Visits to North America 2007/08
  • International Center for Materials Research (ICMR) and University of California Santa Barbara Summer School for First Principles Calculations for Condensed Matter and Nanoscience 2005
  • Alumni Certificate of Achievement for Outstanding Academic Achievement in Applied Physics Honours, 1999

Selected Major Grants

  • NCRIS, State Government and Flinders University (2019): Harmer. Photoemission Electron Microscope $3,784,571

  • ARC LIEF LE190100123 (2019): Raston; Monteiro; Thordarson; Stubbs; Chalker; Forbes; Harmer; Zhang; Rowan; Bond; Chua; Clemons; Smith; Nguyen. Thin film microfluidic systems facility. Funds Awarded from ARC: $380,000.

  • ARC Linkage Project LP160101497 (2017): Pring, Harmer, Brugger, Gibson, Grguric, Ehring. Reverse Engineering Nature: metal extraction through mineral replacement. Funds Awarded: $875,000 ARC and BHP Billiton.
  • ARC LIEF, LE130100038 (2012) Quinton et al. Scanning Auger Microscope Facility Funds Awarded from ARC: $450,000.
  • ARC Synchrotron Research Initiative, SR120200004 (2012): Smith et al. Funds Awarded from ARC & NHMRC: $30M. Total funds: $120M
  • ARC Future Fellowship, FT110100099 (2011): Harmer. The Microbe Factory: A Novel Approach to Benign Minerals Processing. Funds Awarded from ARC: $648,348.
  • ARC LIEF, LE110100174 (2010): Lay et al. Innovative Synchrotron Science - Access Program to the Australian National Beamline Facility and Cutting-Edge Beamlines at International Synchrotrons. Funds Awarded from ARC: $800,000.
  • Marsden Fund 10-GNS-023 (2010): Daughney, Johannessen, Weisener Harmer-Bassell. Shedding Light on a Fundamental Geochemical Process: Synchrotron Investigation of Geomicrobiological Controls on Metal and Metalloid Ion Immobilisation. Funds Awarded: $720,000 NZD.
  • ARC Linkage LP0989689 (2009): Harmer and Ametov. Matching Flotation Concentrate Composition to Downstream Processing in Copper Production at OD, BHP Billiton. Total Project Funds: $1,324,700.

Teaching Grants

  • Faculty Teaching and Learning Innovation Grant (2012) Parappilly and Harmer. Funds Awarded: $10,000.
Key responsibilities

Director Flinders Microscopy and Microanalysis

Deputy Director Biofilm Research and Innovation Consortium

Deputy Research Higher Degrees Co-ordinator, College of Science and Engineering

Chair Australian Institute of Physics SA Branch Committee

Research Leader Flinders Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology

Research expertise
Condensed matter physics
Geochemistry
Nanotechnology
Other physical sciences
Physical chemistry
Surface science
Research interests

Sarah's research focusses on the application and development of spectroscopic techniques for minerals processing and the interface between bacteria and mineral surfaces.The techniques employed in her research include:

  • Synchrotron X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (SXPS);
  • X-ray Absorption Near Edge Spectroscopy (XANES);
  • Photoemission Electron Microscopy (PEEM);
  • Scanning Photoelectron Microscopy (SPEM);
  • Scanning Transmision X-ray Microscopy (STXM);
  • Conventional XPS;
  • Time of Flight Secondary IonMass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS);
  • NanoSIMS

Electronic structure of 3D transition metal compounds

3D transition metal compounds are some of our most exploited materials for the extraction of metals, battery technologies and memory devices. Research using charge transfer MC-SCF calculations allows for the elucidation of their properties through spectral interpretation.

Development of an in situ microspectroscopic analysis of materials

The prototype electrochemical cell developed in Sarah's lab enables high resolution spectroscopic imaging in hydrated and controlled electrochemical states. Example applications include structural analysis of dynamic microbial communities, and composition analysis of heterogeneous catalysts at the nanometer scale.

Bio-flotation: A green mining process

Sarah's lab investigates the potential use of bio-flotation for the separation of sulphide ores using microbial metabolites extracted from bacteria naturally found at mine sites. The new technique promised to decrease the use of toxic chemicals as an economically viable, greener method for mineral separation.

Topic coordinator
PHYS3702 Solid State Physics and Optoelectronics
PHYS3701 Nuclear and Statistical Physics
Topic lecturer
PHYS1102 Fundamental Physics II
CPES7711 Advanced Techniques in Chemical and Physical Sciences
Supervisory interests
Biomining
Condensed matter physics
Geochemistry
Inorganic electronic structure and spectroscopy
Surface science
Higher degree by research supervision
Current
Principal supervisor: Biomining and Biogeochemistry (3), Surface Science (1), Condensed matter physics and Inorganic electronic structure and spectroscopy (1)
Associate supervisor: Surface Science (2)
Completion
Principal supervisor: Bioleaching (1), Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (UniSA) (1), Bioflotation
Associate supervisor: Synchrotron nanospectroscopic imaging of sulfides (UniSA) (1)
Higher degree by research student achievements
Sian La Vars

3 Minute Thesis University Finalist - AUG 2013

Sian La Vars

Poster Prize ICONN conference 2014 - FEB 2014

Belinda Bleeze

Best Poster CaPS Honours - NOV 2014

Zoe Pettifer

HERCULES Synchrotron School Scholarship - MAR 2015

Connor Retallick

Cheiron School Travel Award - JUL 2015

Belinda Bleeze

Best Poster Flinders Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology Annual Conference - JUN 2019

Belinda Bleeze

Best Poster Flinders Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology Annual Conference - JUN 2018

Publications
Further information
For publications not associated with Flinders University search Scopus for Harmer S.L.

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