More information about the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics award is available from the Nobel Prize website.
For more information about the work of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Waves, please visit the ARC website.
The 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded for gravitational waves. This Nobel Prize is as much a recognition of the work of Professors Weiss, Barich and Thorne as it is of the many researchers they’ve been working alongside as part of an extensive international collaborative team that includes many Australians, such as the LIGO and OzGrav team here at IPAS.
Follow on the first discovery in 2015, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery – known as OzGrav- was established. OzGrav is a partnership between Swinburne University, the Australian National University, Monash University, University of Adelaide, University of Melbourne, and University of Western Australia, along with other collaborating organisations in Australia and overseas.
Making the first two pages in the “Making a difference – Outcomes of ARC supported research” publication, Detecting Gravitational Waves & Smart Needle To Make Brain Surgery Safer were proudly featured in the “Understanding Our World and Translating Fundamental Research” section. This publication is a snapshot of some of the outstanding research outcomes derived from research projects funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council (ARC) National Competitive Grants
Detecting Gravitational Waves – the most exciting discovery in fundamental physics for decades was firstly announced in 2016 which has opened a new window in astronomy. These discoveries have opened up new possibilities in exploring the universe through its most enigmatic objects: black holes, while at the same time testing our current understanding of the physical laws underpinning the universe. Prof Peter Veitch and A/Prof David Ottaway are leading the Research being carried out at the University of Adelaide node of the new ARC Centre of Excellent for Gravitional Wave Discovery, OzGrav.
Smart Needle To Make Brain Surgery Safer project lead by Prof Robert McLaughlin had developed a revolutionary tiny imaging probe encased within the brain biopsy needle to allow surgeons to avoid at-risk blood vessels which can potentially fatal. This device contains a tiny fibre-optic camera using shining infrared light and combined with smart image processing software to alert surgeon potentially damaging vessels. Professor Christopher Lind, Consultant Neurosurgeon successfully did a pilot trial with 12 undergoing neurosurgery.
Congratulations to both LIGO and Miniprobes team!
A revolutionary new type of laser developed by IPAS members at the University of Adelaide is promising major advances in remote sensing of greenhouse gasses.
Published in the journal Optics Letters, a research team from the University of Adelaide and Macquarie University has shown that the new laser can operate over a large range within the infrared light spectrum.
“Most lasers work only at one wavelength of light,” says lead author Dr Ori Henderson-Sapir. “What’s special about this laser is that it not only can change wavelengths (tunability), but that it can be tuned over a very large wavelength range.
“In fact this laser has the largest wavelength tuning ever demonstrated by a fibre laser, and reaches further into the mid-infrared than ever achieved before from a fibre laser operating at room temperature.”
Importantly, the laser operates in a wavelength range in which the ‘molecular fingerprints’ of many organic molecules occur. The ‘fingerprints’ are patterns of light absorption at different frequencies.
“The new laser is operating at a wavelength where many hydrocarbon gases, including the greenhouse gases, absorb light,” says project leader Associate Professor David Ottaway, from the University of Adelaide’s School of Physical Sciences and the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing. “This means that by changing the wavelength of our laser, we can measure the light absorpt
ion patterns of different chemicals with a high degree of sensitivity.
“This will allow us to detect small concentrations of these gases at considerable distances (up to 200-300 metres). Remote detection of greenhouse gasses such as methane and ethane opens up the prospect of differentiating between various potential emission sources, such as natural gas extraction and agriculture ─ and so pinpoint areas of concern.”
Other potential applications for the future include the possibility of analysing trace gases in exhaled breath at a clinic to detect the presence of disease. For example, acetone can be detected in the breath when someone has diabetes.
“The main limitation to date with laser detection of these gases has been the lack of suitable and affordable light sources that can produce enough energy and operate at the correct part of the light spectrum,” says Associate Professor Stuart Jackson, of Macquarie University. “The few available sources that can cover the wavelength range necessary for the detection of these gases are generally expensive and bulky and, therefore, not suitable for widespread use.”
The new laser uses an optical fibre which is easier to work with ─ less bulky and more portable ─ and much more cost effective to produce than other types of laser.
“It has incredible potential for scanning for a range of gases with a high level of sensitivity and, because of its affordability, it promises to be a very useful sensing tool,” says Dr Ottaway. “We hope this laser will open up opportunities for lasers in the mid-infrared in a similar manner that that titanium doped sapphire lasers revolutionised lasers operating in the visible and near-infrared.”
This research was supported by the South Australian Government, through the Premiers Research and Industry Fund and the Australian Research Council.
IPAS has had considerable success in the latest round of the ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) scheme, leading a bid for $400k and collaborating in 2 other successful bids worth 1.14M. The three projects are:
$400k – Capability for the fabrication and characterisation of mid-infrared photonic materials to be located at IPAS.
$640k – A high resolution environmental scanning electron microscope (HRESEM) for South Australia which will be located at Adelaide Microscopy
$500k – Integrated photodetector array fabrication facility – this will be located at UWA and further strengthens the research links between IPAS and Professors Dell and Farone at UWA and Professor Jagadish at ANU.
The award of these funds will enable researchers at the University of Adelaide and across Australia to advance their research and develop new materials and technologies.
The ARC LIEF scheme fosters collaboration through its support of the cooperative use of national and international research facilities.
Minister Carr chose the project led by IPAS to be 1 of 3 to be included in his statement for the LIEF round:
Professor Tanya Monro – IPAS Director, said: “The award of these funds will transform our ability to develop new materials and fibre technologies. The research these bids will underpin is critical to IPAS and will significantly enhance our collaborations with UWA and ANU. We can’t wait to get the equipment commissioned and the research underway.”
The University of Adelaide has state-of-the-art research laboratories for developing soft glass microstructured optical fibres within the Centre of Expertise in Photonics. Building on the success of this centre, the University has recently formed a new research institute, IPAS, the Institute for Photonics & Advanced Sensing, which brings together physicists, chemists and biologists to pursue an ambitious transdisciplinary research agenda in advanced sensing.
For more information on IPAS please contact:
IPAS Director – Professor Tanya Monro, telephone: +61 8 8303 3955 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
IPAS Institute Manager – Piers Lincoln, telephone +61 8 8313 5772 or email: email@example.com
Executive Assistant – Ms Sara Boffa, telephone: +61 8 8313 1059 email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
IPAS, University of Adelaide, South Australia, 5005