The University of Melbourne

When materials, for example metals, become very small, their properties change considerably – for example, nanometre sized gold is red. To give an indication of size, the prefix “nano” stands for 1/1,000,000,000 of a metre. Alison’s research involves the investigation of the unique, interesting and often useful properties of materials at the nanoscale. Gold nanoparticles are highly coloured and are able to concentrate light in areas very close to the surface of the particles, and Alison sees applications as sensors for chemical or biological species, in smart optical films, in solar cells, and in optoelectronic circuits as a means to further miniaturise computer chips. One of her research goals is to actively control the colour of nanoparticles.