2016 Clunies Ross Award reflects success of plastic mirror innovation

Peter MurphyPeter Murphy, Professor and leader of the Energy and Advanced Manufacturing strand of the Future Industries Institute (FII), at the University of South Australia, has been awarded a prestigious 2016 Clunies Ross Award, in the innovation category.

The award honours Prof Murphy’s research leadership and the work of his team in translating innovative thin-film technology into the world’s first lightweight plastic automotive mirror, which has been designed as a highly reflective, distortion-free and shatterproof alternative to glass-based external car mirrors, able to withstand extremes of temperature variation.

The mirror, developed in in collaboration with industry partner, SMR Automotive, has since seen more than 1.5 million plastic mirror units manufactured at SMR’s South Australian facility and exported to Ford USA.

Prof Murphy described achieving the award as an honour and thanked his research team, adding that the technology utilised in creating the plastic mirrors had created wide ranging opportunities in industry.

“It’s not individuals but teams that deliver great outcomes. I’ve been fortunate to assemble a fantastic team that have been able to create and deliver this new product,” Prof Murphy says.

“Supplying into global markets, there is immense opportunity for companies to develop and deliver high tech components into the next generation of motor vehicle.

“The technology behind the plastic mirror has been a stepping stone in the development of a world-class, clean room based thin film coating manufacturing facility and capability at SMR’s Adelaide manufacturing plant.

“Since the release of the plastic mirror, the thin film coating technology has evolved further to create new opportunities in decorative coatings and specialist lighting applications in high end vehicles manufactured in Europe and the USA.”

Professor Tanya Monro, Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Innovation paid tribute to Prof Murphy’s success.

“Peter embodies innovation because he can see how we take knowledge and turn it into a new way of doing things. The automotive mirror is now lighter and safer as a result,” Prof Monro says.

“In order to recognise how critical it is to have people like Peter, who are so industry focussed, we introduced a new role of industry professors at the university, and Peter Murphy is one of our inaugural Industry Professors.”

Professor Emily Hilder, director of the Future Industries Institute, said that Prof Murphy’s award winning success demonstrated the value of world class research being able to transform industry practice.

“The FII prides itself as being an institute which creates new industries through collaboration, supporting them to embrace technological innovations to evolve new practice and create new products,” Prof Hilder says.

“Professor Murphy, as Strand Leader in Energy and Advanced Manufacturing, has demonstrated how this is being achieved which the example of thin film technology which is helping to transform the automotive industry.

“Achieving a Clunies Ross award is a measure of his success and skill as a professor and team leader, whose research engagement aligns so succinctly with industry at a local and global level.”  

Prof Murphy, is one of only three winners nationally and will receive his award later today (15 June) from Dr Leanna Read, Chief Scientist for South Australia at a Gala Innovation Dinner at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Hotel, to be addressed by Professor Mary O’Kane, NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer and attended by the Australian Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO FTSE.

Media contact (UniSA): Will Venn office +61 8302 0096 / 0401 366054 email will.venn@unisa.edu.au

Media contact (ATSE): Cathy Reade, Media Liaison, 0413 575 934 creade@squirrel.com.au

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