We like to help solve big problems. If that problem happens to be a tough question about us at your next trivia night, we've got your back.

We’re often the secret ingredient behind the things that have improved your life. Below are 24 more things you might not have known about us.

Dr John O'Sullivan - the man who made WiFi possible. Image: Australian Geographic

Dr John O’Sullivan – the man who made WiFi possible. Image: Australian Geographic

1. We were the first Australian organisation to start using the internet, which is why we were able to register the second-level domain csiro.au for our website (as opposed to csiro.org.au or csiro.com.au)

2. Five CSIRO scientists invented wireless LAN technology, these days known as WiFi, which is now used in more than five billion devices around the world

3. The word ‘petrichor’, which describes the distinct smell of rain, was invented by our own researchers Isabel Joy Bear and Richard Grenfell Thomas

4.  We created a membrane that separates pure hydrogen from ammonia, allowing easier storage and transport and a viable carbon-free fuel industry in Australia.

5. We run NASA’s spacecraft tracking facilities in Australia

6. The world’s first effective influenza treatment, called Relenza, was invented by CSIRO in 1987

7. We created the first bone, cartilage and tissue implant; a 3D printed titanium and polymer sternum that was a perfect match for the patient.

8. We invented Aerogard and used it on the Queen when she visited in 1963

You can find BARLEYmax on supermarket shelves across Australia and NZ. Image: Goodness Superfoods

You can find BARLEYmax on supermarket shelves across Australia and NZ. Image: Goodness Superfoods

9. We grant around 80 new commercial licenses every year like BARLEYmax, a low GI ‘supergrain’ with four times the resistant starch of regular grains

10. CSIRO stands for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

11. We used our patented form of the strongest material in the world, graphene, to create an extraordinarily effective water filter.


Dr Michael Seo with water from Sydney habour
Dr Michael Seo with water from Sydney habour

Because sometimes science involves the filtering water from the world’s most beautiful natural harbour.

12. We invented a permanent pleat for fabrics (yep, we’ve saved you all that ironing).


13. We developed broccoli powder to help reduce food loss, create a new revenue stream for farmers and help people increase their veggie intake.

14. We’ve earned more than $430 million in royalties for our WLAN invention

15. In 2005, our scientists developed near-perfect rubber from resilin, the elastic protein which gives fleas their jumping ability and helps insects fly

16. We invented extended-wear soft contact lenses as part of the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program

17. CSIRO was founded in 1926

18. We invented plastic bank notes – polymer currency that is now used in more than 30 denominations around the world – to help prevent counterfeiting and to last longer

19. When producers of hit Australian film, The Dish, met with staff at our Radio Telescope in Parkes, the scientists initially thought the movie was just another a documentary

Our contact lenses can be worn for up to 30 days. Image: The Daily Write Up
Close-up of woman putting in contact lens

Our contact lenses can be worn for up to 30 days. Image: The Daily Write Up


20. We’ve developed 100 varieties of cotton to help Australian farmers save water, reduce costs and cut insecticide use by 85%

21. Worldwide, we are involved in more than 700 international research activities, like developing the first biomass powered refrigeration system to keep fruit and veggies fresh in rural India

22. Softly wool wash was invented by CSIRO

23. We saved lives by developing the world’s first vaccine to prevent the spread of Hendra virus from horses to humans

24. We’ve developed computer models that deliver a 10x improvement in weather forecasting

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What have we done for you lately?

From household products like Aerogard and Softly to everyday necessities like plastic bank notes and WiFi, here are our top ten CSIRO inventions.


  1. Good on you CSIRO!

  2. That was impressive

  3. What about your Dr Sir Allan Walsh and his invention?

    1. Very impressive, Steven! Who could forget the father of atomic absorption spectroscopy? He even features in one of our favourite archived images: http://www.scienceimage.csiro.au/tag/in-the-lab/i/11200/sir-alan-walsh-1916-1998-/2 🙂

  4. are you guys increasing your public and social media presence? it seems like it!

    1. We’re always present, Theo!

  5. Thank you CSIRO for the word ‘petrichor’

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