The days of Australia’s defence forces routinely deconstructing major equipment to visually inspect for corrosion could soon be over, saving huge amounts of time and money, and possibly even lives.
In a world first, researchers at the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS), University of Adelaide have developed a unique form of optic fibre that can be coated with flurometric corrosion-sensing material—another world-first technique—and embedded throughout the critical structures of aircraft and ships.
Co-lead researcher and IPAS Deputy Director Professor Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem says this means a fighter jet’s wings, for example, could be checked for the early signs of corrosion in a matter of seconds, with no deconstruction required, then be immediately returned to action.
“We’d been working on training light along tiny ‘nano-rail’ fibres threaded through liquids, structures or other mediums as detectors for several years,” says Heike.
“The light in the nano-rails isn’t contained, as it is in standard broadband-Internet optical fibres, but rather is guided along an exposed core, and can interact with surrounding materials to reveal their secrets.
“The Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) asked us to work collaboratively wit them to develop these fibres to detect corrosion in the harsh environments which Defence’s aircraft and ships are exposed to.”
According to Heike, the breakthrough came when co-lead researcher Roman Kostecki developed the world’s first exposed-core optic fibre made from silica.
“This made it sturdy enough for use outside the lab, and allowed us to start applying the technology to real-world problems.”
The team subsequently developed a unique method of coating the fibres with chemicals that respond when light comes into contact with any nearby corrosion by-products, enabling near-instant checks to be conducted by firing lasers along the fibres.
“We’ve already successfully checked for aluminium ions in aircraft-grade materials—the first time that’s ever been done with optical fibres—so we’re very excited to keep expanding the technique’s applications in conjunction with the DSTG.
“It has fantastic potential to create safer aircraft, ships, and even critical structures like bridges, which could ultimately contribute to saving lives.”
The technology has also led to new health-related research, says Heike, including in-vitro-fertilisation (IVF) and water-safety applications.
Congratulations to Dr Stephen Warren-Smith who has won a prestigious Ramsay Fellowship. These fellowships are to support outstanding researchers to conduct full time independent research within the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Adelaide.
Stephen completed his PhD in 2011 at The University of Adelaide. Following this, Stephen was a recipient of an ARC Super Science Fellowship to work on fertility biomarker sensing. In 2015 Stephen became a Marie Curie International Fellow at the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT) in Jena, Germany, to investigate new designs of optical fibre biosensors. We welcome Stephen back to IPAS in October 2016.
Australian researchers at the University of Adelaide have developed a method for embedding light-emitting nanoparticles into glass without losing any of their unique properties – a major step towards ‘smart glass’ applications such as 3D display screens or remote radiation sensors.
This new “hybrid glass” successfully combines the properties of these special luminescent (or light-emitting) nanoparticles with the well-known aspects of glass, such as transparency and the ability to be processed into various shapes including very fine optical fibres.
The research, in collaboration with Macquarie University and University of Melbourne, has been published online in the journal Advanced Optical Materials.
“These novel luminescent nanoparticles, called upconversion nanoparticles, have become promising candidates for a whole variety of ultra-high tech applications such as biological sensing, biomedical imaging and 3D volumetric displays,” says lead author Dr Tim Zhao, from the University of Adelaide’s School of Physical Sciences and Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS).
Although this method was developed with upconversion nanoparticles, the researchers believe their new ‘direct-doping’ approach can be generalised to other nanoparticles with interesting photonic, electronic and magnetic properties. There will be many applications – depending on the properties of the nanoparticle.
“If we infuse glass with a nanoparticle that is sensitive to radiation and then draw that hybrid glass into a fibre, we could have a remote sensor suitable for nuclear facilities,” says Dr Zhao.
To date, the method used to integrate upconversion nanoparticles into glass has relied on the in-situ growth of the nanoparticles within the glass.
“We’ve seen remarkable progress in this area but the control over the nanoparticles and the glass compositions has been limited, restricting the development of many proposed applications,” says project leader Professor Heike Ebendorff-Heideprem, Deputy Director of IPAS and Senior Investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics.
“With our new direct doping method, which involves synthesizing the nanoparticles and glass separately and then combining them using the right conditions, we’ve been able to keep the nanoparticles intact and well dispersed throughout the glass. The nanoparticles remain functional and the glass transparency is still very close to its original quality. We are heading towards a whole new world of hybrid glass and devices for light-based technologies.”
Flinders University Researcher Dr Roger Yazbek, who is collaborating on an ARC Linkage grant with Prof Andre Luiten on cancer detection, has recently had the following article published in The Advertiser on their research “blow in the bag” breath test for cancer.
They hope the relatively cheap, non-invasive and rapid tests will eventually be similar to breast screening tests, giving an early warning for people who return a positive result to seek further testing.
Flinders University researcher Dr Roger Yazbek is leading the innovative project at the Flinders School of Medicine Breath Analysis Research Laboratory.
He noted that many people think expelled breath is simply carbon dioxide but he said it could carry clues to a range of cancers.
“With more than 2000 compounds in a single human breath, there is plenty of information there about the state of our health,” he said.
“We are developing a comprehensive breath analysis program which covers a range of things including cancers and the results so far are very promising.
“We are still at the laboratory research stage but in the near future hope to extend to clinical trials.
“We have started collecting breath samples from a range of patients to identify a range of biomarkers for cancer — once we have this data, we will conduct validation trials to roll out some of the first tests, perhaps in less than five years.”
The project is initially focusing on gastrointestinal conditions such as stomach cancer and oesophageal cancer. About 1300 and 2000 Australians are diagnosed with these cancers respectively each year.
Dr Yazbek noted the symptoms of oesophageal cancer manifested late, and an early warning test would save lives.
The breath tests use both passive and active tests. The passive tests measures the various compounds a person exhales, looking for clues to health problems.
The active tests involves giving a person a liquid that interacts with an enzyme unique to a cancer, then checking to see if the exhaled breath carries the telltale resulting biomarker.
The research team intend to expand the project to develop a test for inflammatory bowel disease.
They also are collaborating with University of Adelaide and Women’s and Children’s
Hospital to develop novel breath analysis tools to manage other serious conditions, including cystic fibrosis, neurodegenerative diseases and general gut disorders.
Dr Yazbek emphasised that the new technique would not replace existing tests.
“For oesophageal cancer, you would target those most at risk due to age and lifestyle, much like breast screening, and if there was a positive result you would refer them for further traditional tests,” he said.
“A rapid, simple and non-invasive tool would help to guide better clinical management, avoiding repeated and costly invasive tissue testing which also significantly impacts patients’ quality of life.”
A proof-of-concept paper, In Vitro Development and Validation of a Non-Invasive 13C-Stable Isotope Assay for Ornithine Decarboxylase (ODC), was recently published in the Journal of Breath Research, describing how ODC in human breath can be used as a potential prognostic marker for oesophageal cancer.
On 22 March, Minister Maher spoke about IPAS in the Legislative Council. His full comments are below, but a few highlights include:
- IPAS was a standout research institute, engaging in cutting-edge research and development with game-changing potential across many areas of industry and technology
- the State Government was proud to have partnered with IPAS to deliver the Photonics Catalyst Program. As a result of this program, Trajan had been working with IPAS to fabricate novel ion transfer tubes for mass spectronomy that were then used to undertake chemical analysis in the medical industry. Trajan had established a new office within the IPAS facility at Adelaide University and were investigating the possibility of undertaking larger scale manufacturing in South Australia
- Minister Maher also spoke about the IPAS event he attended last week at the University, which he described as a great opportunity for SA companies to hear from several leading speakers about the transformative potential of photonics
- The Government was committed to maximising the photonics opportunity for the state. It had recently provided $200,000 to the University of Adelaide to undertake a photonics value chain analysis to determine the feasibility of further establishing South Australia as a world recognised location of photonics excellence. Through this financial contribution, IPAS had appointed the international photonics expert Dr Bob Lieberman to deliver the photonics value chain analysis.
Full details on Minister Maher’s comments below:
The Hon. G.A. KANDELAARS ( 14:43 ): My question is to the Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation. Can the minister inform the chamber about opportunities in photonics and advanced sensing that may deliver for South Australia?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy) ( 14:43 ): I thank the honourable member for his question and his interest in this area and in areas that are providing future industries and future prospects for South Australia. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing at Adelaide University (IPAS), which I have been to a number of times over the last 12 months or so. While there are a number of distinguished research institutions in South Australia, IPAS is a standout, engaging in cutting-edge research and development with game-changing potential across many areas of industry and technology.
The state government is proud to have partnered with IPAS to deliver the Photonics Catalyst Program, which is connecting South Australian manufacturers with emerging laser and sensor technologies being developed by the institute. The seeds we are sowing with programs such as the Photonics Catalyst Program are creating a positive impact for South Australian companies and companies such as Austofix and Trajan.
Trajan has been working with the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing to fabricate novel ion transfer tubes for mass spectronomy that are then used to undertake chemical analysis in the medical industry. The company, Trajan, has committed to entering into a strategic alliance with IPAS that will initially result in the establishment of a new office within the IPAS facility at Adelaide University. I understand that they are also investigating the possibility of undertaking larger scale manufacturing in South Australia which may include the transfer of some of the manufacturing that Trajan do elsewhere around the world.
The IPAS event last week was a great opportunity for representatives from South Australian companies to hear from several leading speakers about the transformative potential of photonics, sensoring and this sort of measurement. Case studies were presented by Anne Collins from Trajan Scientific and Medical; Chris Henry from Austofix, whose company is engaged in the advanced manufacturing of orthopaedic implants; Dr Gordon Frazer from DSTG, which is involved in the development of things such as the over-the-horizon radar system.
The variety of the companies represented at this event signified the breadth of current applications of these technologies for industry, but equally there are applications that are yet to be fully explored. At this event I also had the opportunity to speak with international photonics expert Dr Bob Lieberman, who is President of the International Society for Optics and Photonics. Photonics is a disruptive technology with the potential to be a game-changer for many companies, including South Australian companies, to solve problems for local, interstate and global customers.
Photonics devices, such as lasers, sensors and optical fibres, are applicable to a number of important local industries, including resources, medical, defence, food and environmental industries. We know that the photonics global market is estimated to be worth around $540 billion and is expected to grow to $950 billion by 2023, so this industry represents a great opportunity for our local research and local advanced manufacturing.
That is why the South Australian government is committed to maximising the opportunity for this state. The government recently provided $200,000 to the University of Adelaide to undertake a photonics value chain analysis to determine the feasibility of further establishing South Australia as a world recognised location of photonics excellence.
Through this financial contribution, the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing at Adelaide University has appointed the international photonics expert Dr Bob Lieberman to deliver the photonics value chain analysis. Very simply put, Dr Lieberman’s work will help the state to develop a road map for light-based technologies in a partnership with the University of Adelaide’s Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing.
This project will deliver a comprehensive analysis of South Australia’s existing photonics capabilities within research and industry; an understanding of current and future global market opportunities that utilise photonics technologies and areas where these can be matched to existing capabilities; the necessary actions and projects for industry, research and government to build a photonics industry in South Australia; and research alignment to industry needs and specific projects to take commercial ready or near commercial ready technology to the market.
The road map will provide an important analysis of current and future local, national and international market opportunities relating to photonics. South Australia has globally recognised research expertise in photonics at the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia, Flinders University and at the Defence Science and Technology Group. We must capitalise on these significant opportunities in this emerging market and the benefits that might present themselves for the South Australian economy.
It is expected that this work will provide the foundations for the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing proposed Photonics SA cluster. I look forward to informing the house in the future on the outcomes of Dr Lieberman’s analysis and the very real opportunities this technology offers for industry in South Australia.
An international expert in photonics is visiting South Australia and the University of Adelaide to investigate the impact and value of light-based technologies to business, government, and the community.
Dr Bob Lieberman, President of the International Society for Optics and Photonics, is investigating the feasibility of establishing South Australia as a world-recognised leader for photonics excellence.
The State Government provided the University of Adelaide with a $200,000 grant to help conduct the feasibility study.
Dr Lieberman will help develop a roadmap for light-based technologies in partnership with University’s Institute of Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS).
IPAS Director Professor Andre Luiten said the roadmap and Dr Lieberman’s involvement was great news for the development of these advanced technologies in South Australia.
“The University of Adelaide, working with its industry and research partners, looks forward to discovering new ways that our intellectual and research capabilities in photonics can be used to further develop new and existing businesses within the state,” he said.
Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said: “The global photonics market is worth around $540 billion and is expected to grow to $950 billion by 2023, so it represents a great opportunity for our local advanced manufacturers.
“Photonic devices such as lasers, sensors, and optical fibres are applicable to a number of important local industries including resources, medical, defence, food, and environment.
“Photonics is a disruptive technology with the potential to be a game-changer for South Australian companies, enabling them to solve problems for local, interstate, and global customers.”
The roadmap will provide an important analysis of current and future local, national, and international market opportunities relating to photonics.
The Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) in collaboration with BAE Systems in Australia are helping to develop the world’s most accurate clock which will be used to test the foundation theories of physics. IPAS researchers are currently working on a project with BAE Sytems to build a new generation laser with ten times higher performance than any existing device.
The stable laser will be integral in improving the performance of current optical atomic clocks – accurate to 1 second within 16 billion years. The new cryogenic clock will be used to measure Einstein’s prediction of gravitational time dilation and also to drive Earth’s most precise clock, in Syrte, France.
IPAS Director, Professor Andre Luiten said that to achieve this goal, researchers required highly specialised optical cubes that would be at the heart of the laser system.
“BAE Systems in Adelaide is the only manufacturer in Australia capable of the high precision silicon machining required for this leading edge technology,” said Professor Luiten.
“We worked with BAE specialists who were able to fabricate the Si spacer cube to the delicate proportions required and perform the optical bonding of high-reflectivity mirrors to the cube.
“Working with a local company has allowed the researchers to discuss the best approaches to fabrication and to determine tolerances that minimised fabrication costs, whilst meeting requirements.”
The new cryogenic clock will be over 50 times more accurate than atomic clocks that exist today.
Peter Whitteron from BAE Systems Photonics Group said a clock with this extreme accuracy would prove useful beyond telling the time.
“This level of accuracy can be used in fields such as earthquake predictions, synchronisation of the many kilometres of underwater fibre optical communication networks and global positioning systems (GPS). For example, GPS determines a user’s location by measuring how long it takes the signal from the satellite to travel to a particular location. The more accurate the clock, the more accurate is the capability to pinpoint the user’s location.”
Peter said the team spent more than 12 months working with the IPAS researchers creating the advanced optical cubes.
“It has been an amazing experience to be part of the team creating a new and advanced form of technology that will have an impact on people’s daily lives”.
on 29 January 2016 at the IPAS New Year Event we announced winners of our “IPAS Best Papers” competition for 2015. We were inundated with entries showing the quality and impact of the research being conducted by IPAS members.
Winners for the best ECR led Paper were Abel Santos, Agnieszka Zuber and Xiaozhou (Michelle) Zhang. The best PhD Student Led Paper Awards went to Malcolm Purdey, Parul Mittal and Tess Reynolds. The Best Overall Paper Award went to Gar-Wing Truong and the Best Transdisciplinary Paper with a Strong Medical/Animal Science Element (sponsored by IVF Vet Solutions) went to Melanie McDowall.
See below for a short summary of each of these outstanding papers.
Best IPAS Paper Open Category
Paper Title/Authors: Accurate lineshape spectroscopy and the Boltzmann constant (G.-W. Truong, J. D. Anstie, E. F. May, T. M. Stace, A. N. Luiten)
Journal Name: Nature Communications
Summary: We developed a laser thermometer that tracks the amount of motion in cesium atoms to measure the Boltzmann constant, a fundamental quantity linking temperature to atomic motion, with world-leading precision. This work has revealed new insights into light-atom interactions and also contributes to a world-wide effort to redefine the kelvin (a unit of temperature).
PhD Student Led Paper Awards
Paper Title: Boronate probes for the detection of hydrogen peroxide release from human spermatozoa (Malcolm S.Purdey, Haley S.Connaughton, SaraWhiting, Erik P.Schartner, TanyaM.Monro, Jeremy G.Thompson, R. JohnAitken, Andrew D. Abell)
Journal Name: Free Radical Biology and Medicine
Summary: This work uses new fluorescent sensors to detect hydrogen peroxide in sperm. Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidant that is found in poorly motile sperm and can indicate infertility. The new sensors could distinguish poor quality sperm, and could find use detecting male infertility.
Paper Title: Proteomics of endometrial cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis (Parul Mittal, Manuela Klingler-Hoffmann, Georgia Arentz, Chao Zhang, Gurjeet Kaur, Martin K. Oehler, Peter Hoffmann)
Journal Name: Proteomics- Clinical Applications
Summary: By using the state of the art technique ‘MALDI mass spectrometry imaging’ we have discriminated the regions of the healthy endometrial tissue from regions of tumors with an AUC = 0.985 [AUC expresses the discrimination power and assumes values between 0 (no discrimination) and 1 (perfect discrimination)].
Paper Title: Optimization of whispering gallery resonator design for biosensing applications (T. Reynolds, M. R. Henderson, A. François, N. Riesen,J.M.M. Hall, S.V. Afshar, S.J. Nicholls, T.M. Monro).
Journal Name: Optics Express
Summary: We investigated how to optimize the sensing performance of microsphere resonators using an analytical model that allows any combination of resonator diameter and refractive index to be compared. By incorporating the sensitivity and quality factor of each resonator into a new figure of merit, sensing performance can readily be optimized.
The Best Eearly Career Researcher Led Paper Awards
Paper Title: Realisation and Advanced Engineering of True Optical Rugate Filters Based on Nanoporous Anodic Alumina by Sinusoidal Pulse Anodisation (Abel Santos, Jeong Ha Yoo, Charu Vashisth Rohatgi, Tushar Kumeria, Ye Wang Dusan Losic)
Journal Name: Nanoscale
Summary: This study is the first realisation of true optical rugate filters (RFs) based on nanoporous anodic alumina (NAA). A rationally designed sinusoidal pulse anodisation was used to engineer the characteristic reflection peaks and interferometric colours of NAA-RFs with precision, which can be finely tuned across the UV-visible-NIR spectrum.
Paper Title: Detection of gold nanoparticles with different sizes using absorption and fluorescence based method method (Agnieszka Zuber, Malcolm Purdey, Erik Schartner, Caroline Forbes,Benjamin van der Hoek, David Giles, Andrew Abell, Tanya Monro, Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem).
Journal Name: Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical
Summary: Growing world demand for gold necessitates developing a new, easy-to-use and fast method for detection of low concentrations of gold at the exploration drilling site. Two optical methods: absorption and fluorescence are shown to be suitable for as low detection of gold as 74ppb.
Paper Title: Photoregulation of α-Chymotrypsin Activity by Spiropyran-based Inhibitors in Solution and
Attached to an Optical Fiber (Xiaozhou Zhang, Sabrina Heng, and Andrew. D. Abell)
Journal Name: Chemistry-A European Journal
Summary: We report the development of novel photoswitchable protease inhibitors of which the activity can be switched ‘on’ and ‘off’ by light. An inhibitor of this class was attached to a microstructured optical fibre to produce a biosensor for proteases that can be used in disease diagnosis and
Best Transdisciplinary Paper with a Strong Medical/Animal Science Element (sponsored by IVF Vet Solutions)
Paper Title: Redox and anti-oxidant state within cattle oocytes following in vitro maturation (IVM) with bone morphogenetic protein 15 (BMP15) and follicle stimulating hormone (Melanie Sutton-McDowall, Malcolm Purdey, Hannah Brown, Andrew Abell, David Mottershead, Pablo Cetica, Gabriel Dalvit, Ewa Goldys, Robert Gilchrist, David Gardner, Jeremy Thompson)
Journal Name: Molecular Reproduction and Development
Summary: Conventional IVM is suboptimal as oocyte-derived growth factors (such as BMP15) are absent from conventional systems. While the addition of exogenous BMP15, plus hormones such as FSH, considerable improves IVM quality, the underlying metabolic profiles are unknown. BMP15 supplementation considerable improved mitochondrial activity and oxidative metabolism within the oocyte.