Photonics Showcase draws large crowds

Photo of Atrium at Showcase

The exhibition area in the Australian Technology Park was well-attended.

Photonics – the generation, control, and detection of light - underpins economic activity across a wide range of industries. Many of the innovations in photonics that find industrial application arise from research. In Australia, photonics exports are estimated at ~$150m p.a. in 2012, a relatively small fraction of the more than $400bn p.a. of the global photonics market. There are many different approaches to increasing our national performance in the commercial exploitation of photonic technologies, but strong links between research in photonics and industrial applications are fundamental.

The CUDOS Photonics Showcase, held at the Australian Technology Park in Sydney on November 22, aimed to build links between researchers and those seeking the next industrial opportunity, and to provide educational resources to the teachers of the next generation of scientists, engineers, and users of photonics technology. CUDOS – the ARC Centre of Excellence in Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems – is headquartered in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney. Professor Ben Eggleton, a Laureate Fellow in the School of Physics, has led the Centre since its formation in 2003.

The Showcase was attended by around 270 people drawn from industry and secondary school science teachers as well as from photonics research groups in the Sydney Basin, including 80 CUDOS staff and students. CUDOS researchers exhibited a number of ‘industry-ready’ prototypes of their research including a quantum-based generator of random numbers, a laser source of mid-infrared light for sensing, a 3D nano-printer, and photonic filters for applications from seeing through haze to descrambling microwave signals. Sydney-based groups in CSIRO, DSTO, ANFF, and local company Finisar – a long time Linkage collaborator of the University of Sydney – also exhibited their technology capabilities, products, and services.

The Showcase featured a plenary presentation on photonics from Dr Simon Poole, 2011 NSW ICT Entrepreneur of the Year, recipient of a 2013 ATSE Clunies Ross award, and formerly Technical Director of the Optical Fibre Technology Centre at the University of Sydney. His talk was followed by presentations by CUDOS researchers on their prototypes. High School teachers were treated to a ‘show bag’ of photonic devices with instructions and tutorials on how to use these as experiments targeting specific HSC learning outcomes.

The Showcase also celebrated the addition of a new nanofabrication tool to the suite of facilities available to researchers across Australia. With the support of a grant awarded by the Australian National Fabrication Facility, The University of Sydney has purchased an i-line stepper, an optical lithography tool used for the rapid production of large area planar devices with feature sizes less than one ten thousandth of a millimetre used in nano-electronics, nano-photonics, solar photovoltaics and novel micro-mechanical devices. This tool, the only one of its kind available for public access in Australia, is presently housed in the Bandwidth Foundry but in 2015 will be moved to the newly constructed Australian Institute of Nanoscience on the Camperdown Campus.

The Showcase was made possible by support from the NSW Department of Trade and Industry, The University of Sydney and the Australian Research Council.

Booth Photo

Vice Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence discussing the applications of quantum-based random number generation with PhD student in the School of Physics Matthew Collins.

Photo inside Theatre

Professor Ben Eggleton (University of Sydney) opens the plenary session.