Inaugral Peter Domachuk Memorial Lecture

Invited Speaker: Professor Fiorenzo Omenetto, Tufts University

The multiple forms of silk - from ancient textile to future technology


Silk, the millennia-old thread of luxury, offers unexpected and compelling options for use as a new material for technological applications.

The natural protein (fibroin) that composes the natural silk threads is extracted and used as the starting point for a biocompatible material platform with utility in photonics and electronics, ranging from nanoscale optical lattices to metamaterials, to electronic components. The unusual combination of properties found in this material platform (polymorphic, biocompatible, all-water-processed, controllably degradable, edible, biologically active) allow for an unusual combination of form and function, enabling a series of devices that bridge the biological and technological words.

This lecture will weave this thread across the multiple possibilities that silk offers from the nano- to the macro scale and describe a new way of looking at this familiar material.


Fiorenzo Omenetto is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and leads the laboratory for Ultrafast Nonlinear Optics and Biophotonics at Tufts University and also holds an appointment in the Department of Physics. Formerly a J. Oppenheimer Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory before joining Tufts, his research interests cover optics, nanostructured materials (such as photonic crystals and photonic crystal fibres), nanofabrication, and biopolymer-based photonics. He has published over 100 papers and peer-review contributions across these various disciplines.

Since moving to Tufts at the end of 2005, he has proposed and pioneered (with David Kaplan) the use of silk as a material platform for photonics, optoelectronics and high-technology applications. This new research platform has been featured in MIT’s Technology Review magazine as one of the 2010 “top ten technologies likely to change the world”. He was named one of the top-50 people in tech by Fortune magazine in a class of 50 featuring Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Shigeru Miyamoto among others.

Event Details

Date: Monday, 4 November 2013
Time: Lecture: 4.45 p.m. for 5 p.m. start | Reception: 6 - 7 p.m.
Venue: Eastern Avenue Complex, Eastern Avenue, The University of Sydney (Camperdown Campus)
Cost: Free and open to all with registration requested.