Signature Research Areas | Materials & Biomaterials

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Western has demonstrated international leadership in materials and biomaterials research, specifically through pioneering work in the development of synchrotron radiation to materials science; the synthesis, characterization and application of materials, particularly lightweight materials; and emerging work in chemical biology and proteins. Western’s researchers are designing, developing and creating new materials from the nanoscale to the macroscale, and producing results that can be loosely grouped into six areas:


  • Improved performance and cost-effectiveness
  • Characterization to understand the relationship between material properties and the manufacturing process
  • Behaviour of metals in harsh environments of nuclear reactors


  • Green methods of manufacturing polymer materials to reduce environmental impact
  • Development of polymer structures to deliver drugs or improve medical tests, including MRI
  • Co-location of an international LANXESS – global leader in butyl rubber manufacture – R&D centre with Surface Science Western


  • Investigations and applications in a wide range of fields, including those facilitated by Western’s Nanofabrication Laboratory
  • Development of nanocomposites embedded into contact lenses as non-invasive glucometers
  • Computer models of carbon nanotube/polymer nanocomposites to predict how nanomaterials influence bulk material performance

Composite Materials

  • Established an international, industrial-scale R&D centre with Fraunhofer Gesselschaft at the Advanced Manufacturing Park
  • Leverages joint expertise in the relationship between the manufacturing process, material properties and performance


  • Development of ceramic composite biomaterials for dental and orthopaedic implants
  • Application of engineering principles to grow organs and tissues in vitro from primary cells and synthetic scaffolds
  • Use of fermentation to produce pharmaceuticals, insecticides and materials that could displace petrochemicals as raw materials

Materials for Energy

  • Scientific basis for large-scale production of highly tailored nanotube-based materials for applications in such areas as fuel cells, batteries and sensing technologies
  • New polymer materials for lightweight, flexible batteries
  • Development of low-cost, high-performance materials for solar cells

Key Research Initiatives

Centre for Advanced Materials & Biomaterials

The Centre for Advanced Materials and Biomaterials Research (CAMBR) brings together more than 50 research groups to tackle key materials challenges. From determining how to provide energy to a growing global population in an environmentally sustainable manner to ways to enhance health and quality of life using materials-based approaches to medicine, CAMBR research teams engage in cutting-edge and multidisciplinary research with colleagues across the institution and in collaboration with external partners to move the bar forward in the development of new devices and products with novel materials.

Fraunhofer Project Centre @ Western

Representing Europe's largest R&D organization's first presence in Canada, the Fraunhofer Project Centre @ Western is a long-term research collaboration between Western and the Fraunhofer Institute of Chemical Technology. The centre develops, tests, validates and characterizes new lightweight materials and advanced manufacturing processes at the industrial scale, bridging the gap between research and industry. It is primarily focused on the transportation (automotive and aerospace), renewable energy and construction industries.

Surface Science Western

Surface Science Western is a consulting and research laboratory specializing in the analysis and characterization of surfaces and materials. Since its inception in 1981, the laboratory has successfully served a number of high profile clients across a range of industry sectors including: energy, mineral resources, health services, automotive, aerospace, environmental, electronics and plastics.

Ontario's Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (OAMC)

The OAMC is a partnership among McMaster University, the University of Waterloo and Western University that makes it easier for business to access technical expertise and world-class assets. With one call or click, you can reach an advanced manufacturing expert who can assess your needs and connect you to the right support. The OAMC breaks down individual university barriers: businesses have access to the resources of all three regardless of location or contact or which “door” they come through.