About us

Dr Paul Pigram, the Director of the Centre for Materials and Surface Science

The Centre for Materials and Surface Science (CMSS) brings together experts from physics, chemistry, materials science and electronic engineering, and offers world class capabilities in nanocharacterisation focused on the surface science, analysis, imaging and synchrotron domains. CMSS through La Trobe University is a partner in the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) and a foundation investor in the Australian Synchrotron.

CMSS is an interdisciplinary research centre located at La Trobe University's Melbourne Campus and involves staff from across La Trobe, including:

CMSS aims to:

  • promote co-operative activities and programs in education and research
  • encourage collaboration between local and international organisations
  • provide, receive and disseminate information in the areas of the centre.

Our Staff

Details of our members and associate members.

Centre for Materials and Surface Science activities

Research Programs

CMSS leads and collaborates in research activities with local and international partner organisations and companies. We offer a range of education and training opportunities including:

  • University programs – undergraduate and postgraduate study options and research projects
  • Thematic workshops and training programs for research organisations and industry partners.

Nanocharacterisation Capabilities

CMSS operates open access analytical facilities hosting world class surface analysis and X-ray tomography instrumentation. Access is available through ANFF and via direct engagement. CMSS hosts the Nanocharacterisation Activity Hub of the ANFF-Victoria node.

Industry Engagement and Services

CMSS analytical specialists have worked with more than 50 Australian and international companies over 15 years, providing high quality surface analytical and X-ray imaging services. In addition, a range of opportunities are available for R&D projects and extended research engagements.

A straightforward approach to contracting, confidentiality and intellectual property management is employed.

Read more about the practical applications of surface analysis.


The CMSS was originally established in 1977 as the Research Centre for Electron Spectroscopy by staff from the Departments of Physics and Chemistry at La Trobe University, with the aim of providing a structure within the University to encourage and promote cooperative activities and programs in teaching and research in the general area of electron spectroscopy. From the beginning, scientists from other local institutions with common research interests were included as Associates, and various Workshops and Meetings were organised on a State and National level.

In 1990 the name of the Centre was enlarged to the Research Centre for Electron Spectroscopy and Surface Science, in order to explicitly include the substantial ongoing research in that latter field, and to include techniques other than electron spectroscopy. Then in 1998 the name was changed once again, to the Centre for Materials and Surface Science, to reflect the continuing change in research emphasis.

In 2007, CMSS was a founding member of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) through the Victorian Node. This facility was established under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme (NCRIS) with co-investment from the State of Victoria and the participating organizations. Success in further funding endeavours has seen ANFF grow to a $200M enterprise.