Industry 4.0 is the next industrial revolution, utilising digitalisation to create a smarter, self-correcting manufacturing processes. Bringing this new industrial age together with science is Professor Bronwyn Fox, winner of the 2020 Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research. Her journey with carbon fibre production saw the develop a more efficient fabrications process for composite materials, and also had her involved with Quickstep and their new composite material process. At the time a small start-up, Quickstep is now the largest Australian independent manufacturer of composite materials, and Bronwyn took this entrepreneurial mindset and founded Deakin University’s Carbon Nexus facility. Professor Bronwyn Fox continued her research into renewable carbon fibre and established yet another facility – the National Industry 4.0 Testlab – which focuses on 3D printing of composite materials.
What does DNA, snowflakes and the hydrophobic effect have in common? They are all example of molecular self-assembly! Inspired by this process of nature, Dr Nisa Salim used attractive and repulsive forces to influence molecules to interact, and in doing so created an array of nanostructures capable of becoming solar cells, drug delivery systems, and in her newest venture – manipulating carbon fibre to be stronger than steel, lighter than aluminium and even electrically conductive! For her work in carbon manufacturing, Dr Nisa Salim was awarded the 2020 Phillip Law Postdoctoral Award for the Physical Sciences and explains how a nature-inspired approach to manufacturing can be the key to many issues facing our time – from climate control, water management and even high speed travel.