Professor James Friend


Adjunct Professor

School /
Work Unit

School of Engineering

Contact Details

No Phone


City campus


Science, Engineering and Health

Dr James Friend

Key activities

Profressor James Friend is the director of the new MicroNano Research Facility at RMIT. His research covers fundamental and applied studies on the interaction of electromechanical fields in novel materials and in microfluidics and micro to nanoactuation. The applications of this research are principally oriented towards biomedical needs.


BS Aero Engr (magna cum laude), MS Mech Engr, PhD


James Friend is a Professor and Vice-Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow at RMIT University, and an MCN Tech Fellow at the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication, all in Melbourne, Australia. Co-Directing the MicroNanophysics Research Laboratory with a current staff of 3 academics, 4 post-doctorates and 8 PhD students, he is an associate editor of Biomicrofluidics and is a member of the IEEE Nanotechnology for Biology and a pair of Ultrasonics Technical Committees, and has over 130 peer-reviewed publications and twenty-five patents and patent applications. He received excellence in teaching, early career research, and research awards from the Monash Faculty of Engineering in 2006, 2008, and 2011, respectively, a Future Leader award from the Davos Future Summit in 2008, and was awarded as a Top 10 emerging scientific leader of Australia by Microsoft and The Australian newspaper in 2009.

Funded by the Australian Research Council, the National Health and Medical Research Council, the CSIRO, and various philanthropic organisations and companies, his research covers fundamental and applied studies on the interaction of electromechanical fields in novel materials and across solid-solid, fluid-solid, and fluid-fluid interfaces at the micro and nano scale. The applications of this research are principally oriented towards biomedical needs. He co-authored a leading Reviews of Modern Physics article on acoustic microfluidics to appear in 2011, and have sixteen patents and patent applications in various stages of completion in the US, Australia and Japan in this area. Having helped lead the formation of an international group of like-minded researchers in this field first with a workshop in Prato, Italy and subsequently through the established conferences of the IEEE NEMS, the International Congress on Acoustics, and IEEE Ultrasonics, his collaborators span the EU, US and Japan, with former students and post-docs have taken academic and industry positions across the world.


Research funding: Total funding to date amounts to over $25 million. Fifty-five successful proposal applications in 2006-11 from the NHMRC in project and development grants, ARC's LIEF, Discovery, SSF, and Bionic Eye SRI schemes, Australian NSST, and the CASS Foundation. Successes in 2011:

  • J. Friend. Understanding surface acoustic wave atomisation for pulmonary delivery of drug aerosols in personalised medicine. ARC Discovery DP120100013: $280,000, 2011.
  • C. Cortez-Jugo and J. Friend. Atomized mucoadhesive particles for pulmonary gene delivery. ARC, Discovery DP120100835:$230,000, 2011.
  • A.\Mitchell, D. McCulloch, J. Friend, K. Kalantar-zadeh, L. Yeo, D. Li, S. Sriram, D. Madhu, N. Bhaskaran. Thin film processing cluster: precise synthesis and nano-patterning of functional coatings. ARC Linkage Infrastructure and Equipment Fund (LIEF) LE120100004: $470,000, 2012.
  • A. Mechler, C. Hogan, M. Anderson, P. Pigram, J. Friend, and L. Yeo. State-of-the-art biophysical surface characterization facility. ARC LIEF:$460,000, 2011.
  • S. Ricardo, J. Bertram, E. Wallace, J. Friend, and L. Yeo, “Postnatal macrophages for organ growth and repair,” NHMRC Project Grant 1003806: $492,957, 2011.
  • M. Plebanski, R. O’Hehir, C. Hardy, J. Friend, and S. Xiang, “Nanoparticle vaccines,” NHMRC Project Grant 1003346: $671,120, 2011.

The full versions of James’ publications can be read from his online shared folder.

Numerous television, radio, and magazine appearances including:

  • Press coverage by ABC Catalyst on our pulmonary drug delivery technology, the Respire® system. Maryanne Demasi. Delivering medicines. In ABC Catalyst, 25 August 2011
  • 'Microbot' to swim human arteries. Online and on SBS World News, Australia Channel 10, BBC World News, AFP, Reuters. Airing date 21 January 2009.
  • S. Pincock, “Einstein’s ’tea leaves’ inspire gadget,” in Discovery Channel Online, 19 January 2007.
  • D. Herbulock, “Microrobot: Designing a swimming robot small enough to be injected into the human body. (duration: 12 min 32 sec).”, On Air 9 September 2007.
  • D. G. Philips, “Microbots – the future of robotic medicine,” in ABC Catalyst, 27 September 2007.
  • M. McCulloch, “Microscopic robots,” in FirstScience, 9 February 2007.

I have 25 inventions under patent or under patent application at various stages of assessment here in Australia, the US, the EU and in Japan. Five of these patents/patent applications' rights have been assigned to Taiheiyo Cement (a Japanese ceramics company), another (Respire) has been nonexclusively assigned to VPatch, a Victorian biomedical company, for a specific application.

Teaching: Typically have ranked among top 5% of academics institution-wide in teaching ratings since 1999 based on nine post-graduate courses and five undergraduate courses across mechanical, materials and electrical engineering and physics.

Responsible for developing the use of recorded video lectures via TabletPC technology that has garnered for its roughly 35 academics that now use the technology at Monash a 10-20% increase in student. Example lectures for my unit, MEC4428 Advanced Dynamics.

Selected publications

“Multi-degree-of-freedom ultrasonic micromotor for guidewire and catheternavigation: The NeuroGlide actuator”, Yun, C., Yeo, L.Y., Friend, J. R., & Yan, B., Appl. Phys. Lett., (2013).

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