Rob Atkin

Professor, MRACI, AINSE Councillor

  • The University of Western Australia (M310), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Nano-Engineering for a Greener Future

Rob Atkin’s research seeks solutions for some of the most pressing issues of our time: sustainability and energy efficiency. He does this by molecularly engineering nanostructured liquids that interact with electrodes and other solid surfaces to create functional interfaces. His work covers topics such as:

  • Ionic liquids and deep eutectic solvents: These liquids that have very low volatility and high conductivity. They can be used as alternatives to harmful solvents or as components of advanced batteries and capacitors.
  • Electrolytes and energy storage: Electrolytes carry electric charge and can store energy. They are essential for devices that power our phones, laptops, cars, etc.
  • Smart lubricants and cutting fluids: These are fluids that can reduce friction and wear between moving parts, such as in engines, machines, or tools. They can also help improve performance, durability, and safety.
  • Surfactant and polymer adsorption: These are processes that involve molecules adsorbing to surfaces and changing their properties. They can be used to create surface coatings, modify wetting behaviour, or enhance cleaning efficiency.
  • Novel methods of remediating plastics from the environment: These are techniques that can help remove or degrade plastics that pollute our oceans, lands, and wildlife. They can also help recycle or reuse plastics in new ways.

Rob makes extensive use of cutting edge facilities in the UWA Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis, such as atomic force microscopy and external radiation scattering facilities such as ANSTO and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source. Rob has collaborations with academics and industry partners in Australia and internationally.

Rob was awarded his PhD in 2003 and has formerly held an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Newcastle Research Fellowship, and Australian Research Council Future Fellowship. Rob has attracted more than $13M in research funding over the course of his career including $6M from the Australian Research Council (8 Discovery Projects and 7 Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities grants) and $1.5M from industry focussed grants. Rob has also been awarded neutron beam time grants worth over $2.5M.

Rob is open to new opportunities to collaborate with other scientists, industry partners, or community groups. If you are interested in learning more about his work or joining his team, please contact him at

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

Industry keywords

  • Energy
  • Mining and Resources
  • Transport
  • Agriculture and Food

Research expertise keywords

  • Surface science
  • Physical chemistry
  • Tribology
  • lubrication
  • Ionic liquids
  • Deep eutectic solvents
  • Biofuels
  • Coatings
  • Materials science
  • Surfactants
  • Polymers
  • Particles
  • Electrolytes
  • Encapsulation
  • Emulsions


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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