Meta-optics research centre coming to ANU

Australian National University

Tuesday, 22 October, 2019

Meta-optics research centre coming to ANU

Minister for Education Dan Tehan has announced $34.9 million in Australian Government funding to establish the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems, to be led by Professor Dragomir Neshev and based at The Australian National University (ANU).

The centre is set to research the interaction of light with nanomaterials — technology that is often thinner than a human hair. It will translate its research into innovative technologies to be used in transport, health, security, defence, agriculture, entertainment and education.

“This centre of excellence will bring together world leaders in science, technology and engineering to deliver research that will underpin future technologies,” Tehan said.

“The centre will also be an incubator for outstanding young innovators to be future leaders in the sector.”

Prof Neshev said the centre will drive research in smart and miniaturised optical technologies that link the digital and physical worlds through light, making Australia a global leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“Our groundbreaking research will improve our everyday lives with the development of optical technologies that will empower autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, wearable sensors and remote sensing,” he said.

“Our research will develop optical systems thinner than a human hair that monitor a driver’s fatigue in cars and keep people safe on our roads. Further, it will develop smaller, smarter, faster and cheaper wearable optical sensors to better monitor our health.

“It will develop holographic displays and augmented reality for more immersive and powerful education in our classrooms and laser tech that makes autonomous vehicles better at predicting and avoiding hazards.

“And it will underpin light-based Wi-Fi — 1000 times faster than current technologies — to be used in our mobile phones and laptops.”

ANU Provost Professor Mike Calford thanked the government for the significant funding, saying the centre will help boost Australia’s economy.

“This research centre will help revolutionise how light is used in ways that can have significant impacts for everyday Australians,” he said. “This includes less invasive medical diagnostic tools that scatter light through the body to detect disease.

“This revolutionary new centre will help strengthen Australia’s very own knowledge economy — setting up a global epicentre for light-based research and development that will develop the products of tomorrow, today.”

The centre will see ANU collaborate with experts at four Australian universities and 20 academic and industry partner organisations from Australia, Europe, Asia and America. Together they will provide an additional $35.4 million in cash and in-kind support.

Image caption: Professor Dragomir Neshev and his ANU co-researcher Professor Chennaputi Jagadish. Image credit: Lannon Harley/ANU.

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