Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Dr Dario Arrua

Main Campus
Mawson Lakes

Applications Close
02 Feb 2023

Study Level

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate or International Candidate

Tuition Fees:
All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. International students who receive a stipend are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$29,863 p.a. available to domestic and international applicants

About this project

Develop solid state electrolytes to power wearable electronics

Are you passionate about a career in materials engineering and keen to develop innovative technology for energy conversion? The University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a contemporary project-based PhD within the Future Industries Institute

The shift in climate impacting energy methods has prompted the investigation of renewable energy methods and this project will explore the conversion of body heat into electricity as an alternative resource to power wearable electronics. The project will develop nanostructured porous materials to be used as solid-state electrolytes in energy conversion applications.

Using thermo-electrochemical cells (TECs) has shown to generate power outputs comparable to those obtained with liquid base TECs but without the risks of leakage. However, the materials still suffer from a significant decrease of power after electrolyte confinement. The project will explore novel QSE by confining electrolyte solutions within porous organic polymers with well-defined pore size distribution. TEC is a promising technology to mitigate environmental issues and reduce global carbon footprint. It can be easily applied as flexible and wearable power generation devices. The research project builds on two of the core areas of research at the Future Industries Institute, materials engineering and energy conversion.

You will join the Future Industries Institute and benefit from their world-class facilities and equipment. The Institute’s collaborative and innovative projects and team of renowned researchers mean that you will be able to access all the expertise and knowledge you need to help you succeed and thrive in your studies.  

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will undertake both basic and applied research associated with the synthesis and characterisation of porous polymers for energy conversion applications.

You will assist in developing porous polymers with different pore structures and modify the surface chemistry of the porous polymers to study the effect of the materials chemistry on the ion-polymer surface interactions. Next, you will explore how the materials will be integrated within flexibles TCEs devices and their electrochemical performance evaluated.

Upon completion, you will have expertise in materials engineering and energy conversion as well as knowledge about product development, commercialisation and IP management.

There will be opportunities for you to present your work at national and international conferences relevant to the field of research.

Where you’ll be based

You will be based in the Future Industries Institute (FII) which was established with a new research culture in mind – one deeply engaged with industry, with the end goal of building economic growth through relevant innovation and industry partnership.

The Institute reflects the University’s strategic ambition to be Australia’s University of Enterprise which engages fully with the professions and industry globally, whose research is informed, leading edge and relevant. FII continues to forge national and international research partnerships in new industries and technologies that address real world issues. Our goal is to support a creative and engaged culture and to help develop a sustainable ecosystem in which innovation, complex, growth-focused industries thrive.

FII's research supports state and national research priorities and comprises top research teams able to collaborate across disciplines and to work with industry partners to deliver innovative solutions.

With a vibrant research environment, a strong industry orientation, and active international and national links, both academic and industry based, the Institute is among the very best in Australia and attracts and retains leading researchers.

Supervisory Team

Financial Support 

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $29,863 per annum is available to eligible applicants. Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $46,653 per annum (2023 rates). A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included. For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information for domestic students or international students.

Eligibility and Selection 

This project is open to application from both domestic and international applicants.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a PhD. Additionally applicants must meet the projects selection criteria: 
  • Experience in materials science/polymer chemistry/surface modification approaches
Applicant who can also demonstrate the following will be highly regarded:
  • High level communications skills and computer literacy, including presentation of scientific results to various stakeholders
All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate.

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our Mawson Lakes Campus in the north of Adelaide. Note that international students on a student visa will need to study full-time.

Essential Dates 

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer.  Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Thursday, 2nd of February 2023.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

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