24 April 2008

One of Australia’s leading nanotechnology researchers has been recognised for his work at The University of Queensland on sustainable energy with a second Federation Fellowship.

The prestigious Australian Research Council Fellowships are considered to be the premier scientific appointment in the country and are aimed at attracting and retaining world-class researchers.

Professor Max Lu, from UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, is developing a new type of solar material that is more efficient in harvesting sunlight and costs less to produce.

“We are working on a new class of photocatalysts with high visible light activity that could lead to cost effective solar energy conversion to electricity or to split water to hydrogen,” Professor Lu said.

“We are also developing more efficient processes for water purification and converting carbon dioxide to a liquid fuel using this class of photoactive materials.”

He said his research had the potential to transform Australia’s energy and environmental industries and to speed up our transition from a fossil fuel economy to a renewable energy economy.

Professor Lu is Chair of Nanotechnology in Chemical Engineering at UQ and Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Functional Nanomaterials. He is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and has served as a member of the ARC College of Experts. He has also been a member of two Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council working groups, playing a key role in developing the National Nanotechnology Strategy.

UQ’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor David Siddle said Professor Lu’s research had the potential to revolutionise Australia’s energy production.

“UQ has a critical mass of researchers working on new and existing ways to generate energy in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way,” Professor Siddle said.

“Professor Lu is at the forefront of this research and we are proud to see he has been recognised a second time with Australia’s leading scientific appointment, the Federation Fellowships.”

Professor Lu will have the double honour of carrying the Olympic torch in Canberra today (April 24), one of only two UQ people taking part in the only Australian leg of the torch relay, the other being the co-creator of the cervical cancer vaccine Professor Ian Frazer.

Media: Andrew Dunne at UQ Communications (07 3365 2802 or 0433 364 181). Hi-res pictures of Professor Lu are available by contacting UQ Photographic Librarian (07 3365 2753).