Category Archives: ResearchNews

Future of Photonics Innovation – finalist in 2017 Australian Financial Review Higher Education Awards!

TrajanThe Future of Photonics Innovation – The Trajan Scientific and Medical (Trajan) – The University of Adelaide strategic partnership lead by Prof Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem  claims one of the top higher education achievers in 2017 AFR Review Higher Education Awards!

This prestigious awards, in their third year, recognise innovation and achievement in Australia’s higher education sector.  The winners will be announced and honoured at a sumptuous Gala Dinner, presented by UniSuper, on 29 August 7pm.

 

Dragonflies and Driveless Cars

Dragonfly

Despite the fact that dragonflies can’t drive cars, understanding how their brains work is improving selective attention for artificial vision systems, for applications such as driveless cars.

A recent study by Dr Steven Wiederman and published in eLife, demonstrated how dragonflies are highly efficient predators due to the highly complex nature of their brain. Specifically, cells in their brains, called Small Target Motion Detectors, can predict the direction and location of its prey.

Further understanding of such complex neurological systems can be applied to autonomous robots and driverless cars.

Articles:

Wiederman SD, Fabian JM, Dunbier JR & O-Carroll (2017) A Predictive Focus of Gain Modulation Encodes Target Trajectories in Insect Vision, eLife, 25th July, DOI: 10.7554/eLife.26478.002

Bagheri ZM, Cazzolato BS, Grainger S, O’Carroll DC & Wiederman SD (2017) An Autonomous Robot Inspired by Insect Neurphysiology Purses Moving Features in Natural Environments, Journal of Neural Engineering,13 July, DOI: 10.1088/1741-2552/aa776c

University of Adelaide media release

How the Dragonfly’s Surprisingly Complex Brain Makes it a Deadly Hunter, Gizmodo

Dragonfly Brains Have ‘Killer Cells’ That Can Predict the Movement of Their Victims – and It Could Lead To Robot Supervision, the Daily Mail

Dragonfly Brains Predict the Path of Their Prey, Science Daily

Timely Success to Build High-Performance Clocks

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Dr Chris Perrella (Precision Measurement Group) was recently awarded a  Global Connections Fund Priming Grant. The purpose of the grant is to facilitate collaborations between Australian small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and researchers.

This Project will develop a compact high-performance optical clock for ultra-precise timing signals by bringing together Australia’s foremost precision measurement laboratory at the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS), the University of Adelaide, and links it to the world’s leading company in optical precision measurement technology, Menlo Systems GmbH.

The compact high-performance optical clock has potential applications in: communication networks; telecommunications; global positioning systems (GPS); and inertial navigation systems.

Bowie Medal Award for Tara Pukala

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Congratulations A/Professor Tara Pukala, for recently being awarded the Bowie Medal from the Australian and New Zealand Society for Mass Spectrometry (ANZSMS).

The Bowie Medal recognises research excellence in the field of mass spectrometry by an Australian or New Zealand researcher under the age of 45 years.

Professor John Bowie is a Professor of organic chemistry at the University of Adelaide, with a specialist interest in mass spectrometry and was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his contributions to the field.

Tara will be presenting her findings at a keynote lecture at the 26th ANZSMS conference that will be held in Adelaide, 16-20th July.

Top 100 Articles of 2016

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The publication “Fast machine-learning online optimisation of ultra-cold-atom experiments” was ranked in the top 100 articles published in Scientific Reports in 2016, receiving 11820 views.

The paper was the result of a collaboration between Australian National University and Professor Andre Luiten.

Scientific Reports is part of the Nature publishing group and more than 20000 articles were published in 2016.

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Reference: Wigley et al (2016) “Fast Machine-Learning Online Optimization of Ultra-Cold-Atom Experiments” Scientific Reports, 6, 25890. doi:10.1038/srep25890

New optical fibre sensor to aid breast cancer surgery

An IPAS research team led by Dr Erik Schartner has developed an optical fibre probe that distinguishes breast cancer tissue from normal tissue – potentially allowing surgeons to be much more precise when removing breast cancer.

The device could help prevent follow-up surgery, currently needed for 15-20% of breast cancer surgery patients where all the cancer is not removed.

Published today in the journal Cancer Research, the researchers in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP), the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, and the Schools of Physical Sciences and Medicine, describe how the optical probe works by detecting the difference in pH between the two types of tissue. The research conducted with our partners Prof. Grantley Gill at with the Breast, Endocrine and Surgical Oncology Unit at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Dr Deepak Dhatrak of SA Pathology and Prof David Callen, Director of the Centre for Personalised Cancer Medicine at the University of Adelaide. 

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“We have designed and tested a fibre-tip pH probe that has very high sensitivity for differentiating between healthy and cancerous tissue with an extremely simple – so far experimental – setup that is fully portable,” says project leader Dr Erik Schartner, postdoctoral researcher at the CNBP at the University of Adelaide.

“Because it is cost-effective to do measurements in this manner compared to many other medical technologies, we see a clear scope for this technology in operating theaters.”

Current surgical techniques to remove cancer lack a reliable method to identify the tissue type during surgery, relying on the experience and judgement of the surgeon to decide on how much tissue to remove. Because of this, surgeons often perform ‘cavity shaving’, which can result in the removal of excessive healthy tissue. And at other times, some cancerous tissue will be left behind.

“This is quite traumatic to the patient, and has been shown to have long-term detrimental effects on the patient’s outcome,” Dr Schartner says.

The optical fibre probe uses the principle that cancer tissue has a more acidic environment than normal cells; they produce more lactic acid as a byproduct of their aggressive growth.

The pH indicator embedded in the tip of the optical probe emits a different colour of light depending on the acidity. A miniature spectrometer on the other end of the probe analyses the light and therefore the pH.

“How we see it working is the surgeon using the probe to test questionable tissue during surgery,” says Dr Schartner. “If the readout shows the tissues are cancerous, that can immediately be removed. Presently this normally falls to post-operative pathology, which could mean further surgery.

The researchers currently have a portable demonstration unit and are doing further testing. They hope to progress to clinical studies in the near future.

$14.7 million in grants to further drive innovative defence technologies

Minister for Defence Industry, The Hon Christopher Pyne MP today announced seven Australian organisations would receive Australian Government funding of $14.7 million to develop and demonstrate innovative technologies to enhance Defence capability, as part of the Government’s $1.6 billion investment in defence innovation.

https://www.pyneonline.com.au/media-centre/media-releases/147-million-in-grants-to-further-drive-innovative-defence-technologies

IPAS researchers Prof Andre Luiten, A/Prof John Hartnett and A/Prof Martin O’Connor are the research leaders of one of these projects. Their project is to develop Ultra-High Quality Signal Generation for Over the Horizon Radar. The project aims to upgrade the overall performance of the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN), through a performance upgrade of its essential sub-systems. This will improve overall detection of targets.

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$4.5 million awarded for new research discoveries

IPAS researchers have today been awarded $4.5 million in federal funding for new research.

This included 4 Discovery Projects, 1 DECRA Fellowship, 1 Future Fellowship and 2 LIEF infrastructure grants led by IPAS members. 

IPAS Partnership with Trajan Video

Additional funding for vital research

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The Turnbull Government has announced an additional $16 million for 10 critical research projects that will generate meaningful social and economic benefits for all Australians in areas including urban infrastructure, bioscience, telecommunications and health.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the investment from the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) Agility Fund would help unlock Australia’s potential as an innovation nation by “backing work that offers real and tangible benefits for Australians from all walks of life”.

“Homes, hospitals, farms and fishing trawlers are just some of the places set to see benefits from the research these new facilities will deliver,” Minister Birmingham said.

“From areas as diverse as microscopy and marine science to ion acceleration and veterinary science, the Coalition’s $16 million additional investment in 10 research projects highlights our commitment to ensuring Australia has the support it needs for research and innovation.

“Our commitments stand in stark contrast to Labor which in government announced $6.6 billion worth of cuts from higher education and research and left major research infrastructure without funding, like NCRIS, which jeopardised the jobs of 1,700 highly skilled critical researchers.”

The additional $16 million funding comes on top of the $150 million of indexed investment for ongoing operations that we committed through the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Minister Birmingham said that the Coalition had taken an holistic approach to research by encouraging collaboration with industry and business to focus on being more responsive to the needs and priorities of our society and economy.

“Australia needs a coordinated and focused approach to research priorities that are targeted at those things that make a difference to Australia and generate meaningful social and economic benefits,” Minister Birmingham said.

“That’s why our National Innovation and Science Agenda outlined sharper incentives in research funding that reward research excellence and partnership with industry.

“In May we committed $163 million to 258 new research projects that have been selected based on how they map to the challenges Australia faces.”

Minister Birmingham was joined at the announcement by the country’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel AO who was in Adelaide as part of a nationwide consultation trip to develop the priorities for Australian research.

“The work Dr Finkel and his Expert Working Group of researchers, stakeholders and business leaders are doing is critically important to develop a new roadmap for NCRIS and direction for research and innovation for the next decade,” Minister Birmingham said.

“The Expert Working Group has already made great progress and their work will ensure Australia has clear research priorities so that our universities and institutions can work together to tackle the challenges we face across the country.”

Article from Senator Hon Simon Birmingham, Liberal Senator for South Australia and Minister for Education and Training

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