Nanostructured Interfaces and Materials Science Group


NIMS collaborative research on blood clot-targeting nanocapsules profiled

August 2015

Recent collaborative research led by Prof Frank Caruso (NIMS) and Prof Christoph Hagemeyer (Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute) has been widely profiled online (including ABC News, Sydney Morning Herald, International Business Times, Nanowerk,, etc), particularly in the medical field (including Gizmag, Medical News Today, Doctors Health Press, etc). Published in the Wiley journal, Advanced Materials, the research reports on the generation of a nanocapsule that contains a blood clot-busting drug. The drug-loaded nanocapsule is coated with an antibody that specifically targets activated platelets, the cells that form blood clots. It effectively hijacks the blood clotting system to initiate the removal of the blockage in the blood vessel. This targeted drug can potentially offer a safer alternative with fewer side effects for people suffering a heart attack or stroke. This life saving treatment could be administered by paramedics in emergency situations without the need for specialised equipment as is currently the case.

NIMS postdoc receives best poster award at materials symposium

August 2015

NIMS postdoc researcher Dr Biao Kong received the Best Poster Award of Advanced Porous Materials at the 9th International Mesostructured Materials Symposium held in Brisbane, Australia. Dr Kong’s poster presentation was entitled “Interfacial Assembly of Nanoporous Hetero-interfaces for Living Cell Probing”. The awards were presented by Prof Ajayan Vinu (Symposium Co-Chair and Editor-in-Chief, Advanced Porous Materials).

The photo at right shows Dr Kong (left) with Prof Vinu (right).

Latest NIMS research profiled in Stories of Australian Science 2015

July 2015

The latest NIMS research headed by Prof Frank Caruso on biologically friendly drug delivery vehicles has been showcased in Stories of Australian Science 2015, published by Science in Public. This publication (also available online) features cutting edge scientific research by Australian scientists.

The booklets are distributed at international science events, and passed to academics, science leaders, politicians and the media.

MIT’s Prof Paula Hammond visits NIMS labs

July 2015

Prof Paula Hammond, David H. Koch Chair Professor of Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, visited the NIMS labs and other academics in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at The University of Melbourne. Prof Hammond is an Editor of the ACS journal ACS Nano, whose inaugural issue showcased Prof Caruso’s research on the front cover.

The photo at right shows Prof Paula Hammond (right) with Prof Frank Caruso.

NIMS researchers score presentation awards at nanomedicine conference

July 2015

Two NIMS researchers received special awards for their excellent presentations at the 6th International Nanomedicine Conference. NIMS postdoc researcher Dr Jiwei Cui and NIMS alumnus Dr Markus Müllner received Honourable Mentions for Oral Presentation by an Early Career Researcher. Dr Cui’s talk was entitled “Biologically Responsive Polymer Particles via Mesoporous Silica Templating for Drug Delivery”. NIMS postgrad Qiong Dai was awarded Best Oral Presentation by a PhD Student at the conference; her presentation was titled “Monoclonal Antibody-Functionalized Multilayered Particles: Targeting Cancer Cells in the Presence of Protein Coronas”. The awards were presented by A/Prof Grainne Moran (Managing Director of the Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre at UNSW – prize sponsor) and Prof Mary O’Kane (NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer).

The conference was organised by the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology. Themed “Great Science in a Great Location”, the event was held in Sydney, Australia, from July 6-8 2015. This conference series is described as “the most significant regular nanomedicine conference in the southern hemisphere”.

The photo at top right shows (left-right) A/Prof Moran, Dr Müllner, Dr Cui and Prof O’Kane. The photo at bottom right shows NIMS postgrad Qiong Dai (centre) flanked by A/Prof Moran (left) and Prof O’Kane (right).
Photo credit: Dr Scott Jamieson (UNSW).

Biomacromolecules paper highlighted in Prostate Cell News

July 2015

A paper collaboration with researchers in Italy and published in the ACS journal Biomacrolecules has garnered online attention. It was highlighted on Prostate Cell News and BioPortfolio. The paper details the engineering of particular particles to deliver therapeutic nucleic acids to prostate cancer cells.

Collaborative paper on membranes makes journal cover and news

May 2015

Adv. Mater. v27n17

A collaborative paper with Prof Frank Caruso has made the cover of the Wiley journal Advanced Materials. The paper reports on the generation of new membranes that will lead to clean water using a more energy efficient method. This new technology utilises layer-by-layer polymer assembly and the membrane materials are chlorine-resistant, thereby reducing the number of processing steps.

This paper was also profiled in March by, a website focusing on current, prominent research. The research has also been cited on, Chemical Processing, Water Desalination Report, and elsewhere.

NIMS postdoc receives Academic Star award

April 2015

NIMS Research Fellow Dr Biao Kong has received the Chinese Government award of Academic Star in Victoria for 2014. This accolade recognises the most academically outstanding Chinese scholar or student studying overseas; only one is granted each year for Victoria. His current research focuses on high-performance porous metal-polyphenol-frameworks for applications in bioimaging, biosensing, bioenergy and biocatalysis, and he has already published over 30 papers in academic journals.

The photo at right shows Dr Biao Kong (left) with Mr Zhiyong Yang (right), Consul-Officer of the Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Melbourne.

NIMS postgrad scores best student presenter at microfluidics symposium

April 2015

NIMS postgrad Mattias Björnmalm was awarded the “Best Student Presenter” at the 6th Australia and New Zealand Nano- Microfluidics Symposium (ANZNMF) held in Melbourne, Australia in April 2015. His presentation was titled "Microfluidic blood capillary model with super-soft hydrogel particles".

The photo at right shows two of the conference chairs, Prof Stephen Haswell (left) and Dr Sean Langelier (right) congratulating Mattias Björnmalm (centre).

NIMS postgrad wins prestigious Chinese government award

February 2015

NIMS postgrad Junling Guo has been granted the 2014 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad by the China Scholarship Council (CSC). This award was founded by the Chinese government in 2003 to reward the academic excellence of self-financed Chinese students studying overseas with only 500 granted each year worldwide. He currently researches polyphenol-inspired nanomaterials for applications in drug delivery, bioimaging and catalysis.

The photo at right shows Junling Guo (left) with Mr Yumin Song (right), Consul-General at the Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Melbourne, where the ceremony was held in April.

Collaborative polymer capsules paper featured on cover of Advanced Science

February 2015

Adv. Sci. v52, 1400007

A collaborative paper published in the Wiley journal Advanced Science details research into the cargo loading of functional polymer capsules. This has been featured on the journal’s cover and showcases a collaboration between the NIMS group, the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute and Ghent University. A variety of diverse functional and therapeutic cargo can be loaded into polymer capsules with 15 types of cargo investigated, yielding a toolbox with effectively 500+ variations. This process uses no harsh reagents and can take less than 30 minutes to prepare, load, coat and form the hollow capsules. As such, this technique may well play a crucial role across scientific studies in numerous fields. It should be noted that Advanced Science is an open access journal.

This research was also highlighted on Wiley’s Materials Views website in March.

Collaborative CAP paper featured on cover of Chemical Communications

February 2015

Chem. Commun. v51n11

The latest collaborative paper on the continuous assembly of polymers (CAP) by Prof Frank Caruso and Prof Greg Qiao’s Polymer Science Group, also based at The University of Melbourne, has been featured on the cover of the RSC journal, Chemical Communications. The research paper describes the preparation of surface-confined ultrathin polyrotaxane (PRX)-based films with tuneable composition, surface topology and swelling characteristics using solid-state CAP. It was found that the PRX-based films supported cell attachment, and their degradation in biological media could be tuned. This study provides a versatile nano-coating technology with potential applications in biomedicine, including tissue engineering and medical devices.

NIMS paper makes top 20 list of 2014’s most accessed Soft Matter papers

January 2015

The RSC journal Soft Matter has ranked its top 20 most accessed papers published in 2014. This list includes a NIMS paper on the nanoscale engineering of low-fouling surfaces. The research may lead to the design of low-fouling surfaces using a coating technique that can be applied to various applications.

Caruso paper 3rd most cited in Chemistry—A European Journal

December 2014

The Wiley peer-reviewed journal, Chemistry—A European Journal, celebrated its 20th year at the end of 2014. A 2000 communication paper by Frank Caruso made the list of the journal’s top 20 most-cited papers in third spot. The paper describes the fabrication of hollow composite capsules using various colloidal particles as templates. The paper is now open access.

NIMS hydrogel particle research spotlighted on cover of Advanced Materials

November 2014

Adv. Mater. v26n43

A NIMS research paper on super-soft hydrogel particles has been featured on the cover of the Wiley journal Advanced Materials. The research describes how the elasticity of the particles can be tuned to mimic the deformability behaviour of human red blood cells in a microfluidic blood-capillary model. These results provide a new platform for the design and development of soft hydrogel particles for investigating bio-nano interactions.

Frank Caruso's collaborative research scores 2 frontispieces

November 2014

Small v10n21, frontispiece Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. v53n46, frontispiece

Two of Prof Frank Caruso's collaborative research outcomes with international researchers have been recognised with frontispieces in their respective journals.

The collaboration with Korean researchers published in Angewandte Chemie (Int. Ed.) focused on artificial single-cell encapsulation for cytoprotection.

Another collaboration included researchers from the Bionics Institute, Australia, and Fudan University in China; this was published in Small and covered mesoporous silica supraparticles that could be implanted into the cochlea to prevent the progressive loss of auditory neurons.

NIMS postgrad wins best tutor award

November 2014

Yi (David) Ju shared a feedback-based Best Tutor award for semester 2, 2014 in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (the NIMS host department) at The University of Melbourne.

ARC LIEF grant awarded for NIMS-hosted cytometer

November 2014

The Australian Research Council (ARC) has awarded a 2015 LIEF grant for Cytometer by Time of Flight (CyTOF), which will be housed in the NIMS labs. This acquisition will allow multiparametric characterisation of biological systems and quantitative analysis of nano-bio interactions at the single cell level. The convergence of nanotechnology with biomedicine offers unprecedented opportunities for biological applications, including targeted therapeutics.

Nobel Prize-winning microscopy techniques used in NIMS labs

October 2014

Benjamin Hibbs with the N-STORM

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014 was awarded jointly to Eric Betzig, Stefan Hell and William Moerner for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy. This technology is utilised in the NIMS labs, which house the Nikon N-STORM super-resolution fluorescence microscope and utilises the principles behind single molecule imaging. These super-resolution techniques are used for a wide range of applications, from tracking the behaviour of nanoparticles inside cells, to characterising the aggregation of proteins at the nano-scale and probing the interaction of molecules inside cells.

This was later spotlighted by The University of Melbourne in The Melbourne Engineer e-bulletin.

The photo at right shows Ben Hibbs, Platform Support Officer at the Materials Characterisation and Fabrication Platform, with the N-STORM microscope.

NIMS article among the most read in Biomacromolecules journal for 2014

October 2014

Biomacromolecules Abstract image

A recent NIMS research paper published in Biomacromolecules has been assessed as one of the Most Read Articles for the period January - June 2014. The article focuses on thermodynamically assembled core–shell nanocarriers that consist of noncovalent polymers, i.e., polyrotaxanes (PRXs). These are potential candidates for drug delivery applications due to their submicrometer size and drug-loading ability.

NIMS postgrad scores overseas study scholarship

October 2014

NIMS postgraduate researcher, Sylvia Gunawan, has been awarded an Overseas Research Experience Scholarship (ORES) from The University of Melbourne. This helps fund travel and living expenses for her research visit to the Irvine group in the Immunoengineering Lab at the Department of Biological Engineering/Department of Materials Science of Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA. Her research will focus on cancer immunotherapy.

NIMS researcher awarded Dyason Fellowship

September 2014

NIMS postdoctoral researcher, Dr Yan Yan, was awarded a Dyason Fellowship to undertake a project analysing nanoparticles. This will form part of a collaboration with the Centre for BioNano Interactions (CBNI) at University College Dublin, Ireland. Dyason Fellowships have been established to advance education by fostering international academic collaborations.

ARC Centre of Excellence launches

August 2014

Frank Caruso with Aidan Byrne and Tom Davis

The ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology was officially launched on 28 August 2014 and included various notable academics and dignitaries. The ARC-funded Centre is a national innovator in bio-nano sciences and an incubator of the expertise and technological excellence required to develop next generation bio-responsive nanomaterials. Prof Frank Caruso is Deputy Director of the Centre, which is hosted at Monash University with Centre nodes at other institutions, including The University of Melbourne.

The photo above right depicts (l-r) Prof Frank Caruso (Centre Deputy Director) with Prof Aidan Byrne (ARC Chief Executive Officer) and Prof Tom Davis (Centre Director) at the launch.

Frank Caruso awarded 2014 Victoria Prize

August 2014

Frank Caruso with Minister, Louise Asher

Prof Frank Caruso was awarded the 2014 Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation in the category of physical sciences by the state government’s Innovation Minister, the Hon Louise Asher. The award recognises the commitment and achievements of Prof Caruso’s internationally recognised research. The Victoria Prize is managed by the Victorian Endowment for Science, Knowledge and Innovation (veski) and funded by the Victorian Government.

The photo at right shows (l-r) Louise Asher with Prof Frank Caruso.

A promotional video has been posted on YouTube where Prof Caruso elaborates on his research and future directions of scientific study.

New Future Fellow joins NIMS research

July 2014

Dr Francesca Cavalieri, formerly of the University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy, has been awarded an ARC Future Fellowship to undertake research at The University of Melbourne with a focus on developing new nanomaterials to enhance targeted miRNA delivery in cancer therapy. Dr Cavalieri has previously been a visitor and collaborator in the NIMS research group. The Future Fellowships scheme promotes research in areas of critical national importance by supporting outstanding mid-career researchers to conduct their research in Australia.

Frank Caruso named Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher

June 2014

Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher

Thomson Reuters has announced its Highly Cited Researchers for 2014, listing the world's leading thinkers in science and engineering whose research papers rank among the top 1% most cited for their subject field and publication year, earning them the mark of exceptional impact. Prof Frank Caruso was listed as the top Australian in the Materials Science category. As a member of the Highly Cited Researcher list, Prof Caruso is also included in Thomson Reuters' 2014 World's Most Influential Scientific Minds.

Collaborative CAP paper scores front cover of Chemical Science

June 2014

Chem. Sci. v5n9

A recent research article on the continuous assembly of polymers (CAP) via solid phase reactions has garnered the front cover of Chemical Science, a peer-reviewed journal (2013 impact factor 8.6) published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The paper reports on an effective method for the fabrication of smooth, surface confined, cross-linked nanostructured films, and is part of a collaborative project between Prof Frank Caruso and Prof Greg Qiao’s Polymer Science Group, also at The University of Melbourne.

2 NIMS postgrads win travel scholarships

May 2014

Two NIMS postgraduate students, Mattias Björnmalm and Sylvia Gunawan, have been awarded 2014 Clive Pratt Scholarships from The University of Melbourne. These scholarships go towards travel costs for research visits.

NIMS article on the multifunctional microcapsules judged as "Hot Paper"

April 2014

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. v126n22

A recent research paper on multifunctional microcapsules from the NIMS group and collaborators has been rated as a “Hot Paper” by the Wiley journal, Angewandte Chemie (International Edition). The peer-reviewed article describes how a single organic ligand, tannic acid, can be coordinated to 18 different metals to form capsules made of metal-phenolic networks (MPNs). The capsule properties depend on the type and number of metal ions; as such, they can have various applications, including drug delivery, multicoloured fluorescence labelling of biological samples, flexible colour displays, contrast agents and catalysis. Hot Papers are chosen by the journal’s editors for their importance in a rapidly evolving field of high current interest.

This article’s impact was also considered so strong as to warrant that issue's front cover.

The paper has also garnered attention from various international science news sites, such as Chemistry Views,, BioPortfolio and Rare Metals Matter.

NIMS research featured as cover article in Advanced Materials

March 2014

Adv. Mater. v26n12

A NIMS research paper on biomedical applications has been featured on the back cover of the Wiley journal, Advanced Materials. The peer-reviewed paper contributes to research on smart delivery systems with inbuilt biological triggers which are emerging for advanced therapeutic delivery applications. This Communication reports the synthesis of crosslinker-free, layer-by-layer (LbL) capsules that utilise cellular pH variations as a trigger to specifically deconstruct and subsequently release cargo in cells.

NIMS contributes to 25th anniversary issue of Chemistry of Materials journal

January 2014

Chemistry of Materials - 25th anniversary special issue

Prof Frank Caruso and the NIMS research group were invited to submit a review for inclusion in the Special Issue on the 25th anniversary of the prominent, peer-reviewed .journal, Chemistry of Materials. Their review is titled "Assembly of Layer-by-Layer Particles and Their Interactions with Biological Systems,” and it provides an overview of developments in the engineering of multilayered polymer particles, also describing recent progress in their utilization in biomedical applications.

Prof Caruso is an editor of the journal, which has an impressive 2013 impact factor of 8.535.

Frank Caruso named Deputy Director of new ARC Centre of Excellence

December 2013

ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology

Prof Frank Caruso has been named Deputy Director of the new ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology. This new Centre of Excellence (CoE) starting in 2014 will be headed by Prof Tom Davis, Monash University, and comprises an international and multidisciplinary team focused on research at the bio-nano interface to design materials that deliver vaccines, drugs and gene therapy agents, and to develop new diagnostic agents and devices. The CoE is expected to be the focus of bio-nano research activity in Australia, fostering collaboration between universities, research agencies, institutes and companies. The expected outcomes are better diagnostic and therapeutic tools designed via an enhanced understanding of the bio-nano interface. ARC CoEs are prestigious hubs of expertise through which high-quality researchers maintain and develop Australia's international standing in research areas of national priority.

Frank Caruso reports on binding particles to cells in Nature

October 2013

Nature News & Views includes a report by Prof Frank Caruso and Assoc Prof Andrea O'Connor, both from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at The University of Melbourne. They discuss recent research focused on finding a way to control how particles bind to cells, which could lead to opportunities to further biomedical research and applications. The short report in Nature looks at how particles can be designed to deliver payloads of therapeutic drugs and organise cells.

NIMS postgrad scores travel scholarship

October 2013

NIMS postgraduate James Best is congratulated for being awarded the 2013 Clive Pratt Scholarship from The University of Melbourne. These scholarships go towards travel costs for research visits.

Frank Caruso awarded Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science

September 2013

Frank Caruso with his 2013 Eureka Prize

Prof Frank Caruso has been awarded the CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science for his research leadership and collaborative achievements in the development and application of nanotechnology-enabled materials for biomedical research, such as vaccine and drug delivery or to generate sharper imaging from MRI scans. A short video about his work recognised the Eureka Prize is on YouTube. This has been reported in various news sources, included ABC’s News in Science, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Canberra Times newspapers, and The Conversation online news analysis. The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes rank among Australia’s most comprehensive national science and research awards.

The picture at right shows Prof Frank Caruso with his Eureka Prize.
Photo credit: Australian Museum Eureka Prizes and photographer Daniel O’Doherty.

NIMS researchers score Eureka Prize for interdisciplinary research

September 2013

Prof Caruso, Prof Hollenberg and Dr Yan

Prof Frank Caruso and NIMS postdoctoral researcher, Dr Yan Yan, formed part of the collaborative team led by Prof Lloyd Hollenberg awarded the University of New South Wales Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research for their involvement in the Quantum Bio-probes collaboration. This collaboration is the first to measure a single quantum probe in a living biological system using nano-scale diamond sensors that can light up the insides of cells. This work will help researchers see what goes on inside a living cell in unprecedented detail. As with Prof Frank Caruso’s individual award reported above, this has received wide news coverage. The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes rank among Australia’s most comprehensive national science and research awards.

The photo above right shows (l-r) Prof Frank Caruso, Prof Lloyd Hollenberg and Dr Yan Yan.
Photo credit: Australian Museum Eureka Prizes and photographer Daniel O’Doherty.

Frontispiece for collaborative polymer paper

September 2013

Adv. Mater. v25n33

A collaborative research paper has been published with a frontispiece in the Wiley journal, Advanced Materials. The Communication describes how free-standing polypeptide films are formed by a novel cross-linking pathway involving cross-chain terminations of polypeptide chains grown from multifunctional initiators. This fabrication method provides a facile approach towards the formation of stable cross-linked polypeptide capsules with tunable thickness, compositions, and enzymatic degradability.

This paper is part of a collaborative project undertaken by Prof Frank Caruso and Prof Greg Qiao’s Polymer Science Group, also at The University of Melbourne.

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