CUDOS students shine in annual competitions

Inspired artwork with a traffic light theme and a poster & presentation ticking all the boxes were winners in prestigious Student Competitions announced at the CUDOS Annual Workshop held in February this year.

Student Poster Competition

The CUDOS Student Poster Competition is a value-added feature of the prominent focus on student posters at the Annual Workshop. Posters are seen as vital contributions to the research program and all current graduate students are invited to submit a poster and deliver a one minute max ppt presentation. The winners receive a cash award, certificate and recognition in CUDOS publications. The competition is hotly contested!

A record number of 60 posters was received this year. The winners were decided by a panel of four internationally recognised scientists: Prof Kobus Kuipers from FOM Insitute AMOLF, Shanhui Fan from Stanford, John Sipe from The University of Toronto and Herbert Winful from The University of Michigan. What the judges looked for was a sense of the quality and importance of the results and their potential to advance the current research base, the relevance and integrative nature of the research, and the clarity of the exposition.

This year’s winner was Andrea Blanco-Redondo with a poster entitled Soliton compression in silicon photonic crystal waveguides. Andrea was a visiting student from Tecnalia, Spain at the University of Sydney with a 12 month placement funded through the prestigious COFUND-People-Marie Curie Action (The European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme) and will have an ongoing collaborative relationship with CUDOS.

Prof Kuipers summed up Andrea’s winning poster with three simple but telling adjectives: Clear, Convincing, Important – adding that she answred questions during the poster session with great enthusiasm. In response to winning the Poster Competition Andrea said “I feel very honoured and happy that I’ve been awarded with this prize, especially knowing that many of the other students have done fantastic works too. It means a lot to me to feel recognized in this field and it encourages me to keep on working hard to achieve new breakthroughs” Second Place was awarded to Tomonori Hu & Third Place to Matt Collins, both from the University of Sydney.

In recognition of the growing importance that researchers need to be able to to verbally communicate the relevance of their work in the context of benefits to society and human health is incredibly difficult CUDOS introduced a new prize this year - Best One Minute Presentation. This prize was won by Anthony Hope from RMIT who managed to entertain the audience for that magic minute whilst describing his work on Exploring Nanoparticle Oligomers.

Congratulations to all winners.

Image of winning Student Poster

This work is the first ever demonstration of picosecond soliton compression in silicon. Solitons are the basic nonlinear wave, present in diverse physical systems. One of the most striking natural examples of soliton behaviour are rogue waves, enormous water waves capable of toppling ocean going vessels. The results presented in this paper further our understanding of nonlinear waves in silicon and could lead to cheaper, easy-to-make, mass-produceable nonlinear photonic devices.

Student Challenge

The CUDOS Student Challenge is awarded annually to an individual or group of students who demonstrate ingenuity and creativity within the framework of CUDOS research themes. This year’s challenge The Beauty of Photonics invited students to produce a photograph, picture or figure that demonstrates the underlying physical principles of a particular CUDOS research topic and/or showcases the scientific outcomes of research undertaken by CUDOS.

The Judging Panel comprising senior CUDOS research & professional staff as well as Dominik Mersch, Owner and Director of Dominik Mersch Gallery in Sydney, selected the winner based on the artistic merit of the entry, its originality and relevance, clarity and professionalism.

The judges awarded first place to to Messrs Rui Guo, Mingkai Liu and Che Wen from ANU Non-Linear Photonics Centre for their work entitled Nano · Traffic · Light. The students took inspiration from their research on waveguides and nano-antennas to show that the scattering of light can be easily manipulated in such simple design. Utilizing discrete nano-antennas, different colours of light can be directed between waveguides, so as to control the complex traffic of optical information.

Winning Student Challenge entry

Engineering light in compact optical platform is the future of photonics. Here, we combine our studies on waveguides and nano-antennas to show that the scattering of light can be easily manipulated in such simple design. Utilizing discrete nano-antennas, we can direct different colours of light between waveguides, so as to control the complex traffic of optical information.

The boys’ entry will be on display at the Dominik Mersch Gallery in Sydney. (

At the discretion of the judges, a 2nd place was awarded to Ben Hopkins for Pop art leaf

Runner Up Student Challenge entry

Warhol grid of light shining on a section of walnut leaf where colour has instead been depicted by the dominant flows of light at each colour. It shows the hidden reality of how light behaves and is a true depiction of where everyday colours come from, beyond how they are perceived. The absence of false colour in these images is to match the scanning electron micrograph, emphasising the connection to reality and showing that there is a different, underlying, beauty in light.