Tag Archives: photonics

founders

Founders fuelled by STEM

As a full time angel investor and venture capital investor I spend a considerable amount of my time meeting with founders from all walks of life. Ten years back that group would have largely consisted of a few random, risk-taking entrepreneurs and a bunch of computer science grads punching out code. My, how times have changed.

In this current “Innovation Era” it seems the whole world is seeking to get digital and disrupt something. The backgrounds, skills and mindsets in the startup scene are now far more diverse… and what a huge asset that is to the local ecosystem and future of innovation in Australia.

Most comforting to me over the past few years has been the increasing number of founders I’ve encountered from some formal STEM background that’s not just computer science, and how they are putting their ideas to the test. Diversity of thinking, ideas and actions seems to be the DNA of a healthy ecosystem. If we are to create a vibrant, sustainable innovation ecosystem in Australia then we must promote this sort of risk taking through academia and into commercialisation programs.

On a recent tour of Silicon Valley with the current cohort of the muru D accelerator program from Sydney, I had the pleasure of spending time with the founders of astro-educational startup Quberider and underwater inspections company Abyss Solutions.


“It was a pleasure to see these young STEM professionals stand up, pitch and impress some of the world’s most experienced startup investors with their passion and ideas that have true global application.”


Solange Cunin launched Quberider while still studying a Bachelor of Science and Engineering at UNSW, majoring in aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering. Quberider’s director Sebastian Chaoui is undertaking a Bachelor of Engineering and Mechatronics at UTS, majoring in robotics and automation engineering. Abyss Solutions founder Masood Naqshbandi has a Masters in Materials Chemistry and Photonics from the University of Sydney. His highly qualified team hold a number of PhDs and masters degrees between them.

It was a pleasure to see these young STEM founders stand up, pitch and impress some of the world’s most experienced startup investors with their passion and ideas that have true global application. Their diverse skills, intimate knowledge of their subject matter and practical “can-do” attitudes put them in great stead to impress. So did the experiences they shared visiting one of the leading hubs of global startups and innovation.

If we are to create a truly innovative society in Australia that can help make the world a better place, then we need to foster entrepreneurialism among the excellent talent from our leading universities. Support from corporate incubators and accelerators to share business acumen will further accelerate their success. Supportive global capital will surely follow.

Andrew Coppin

Director, Bardama Startup Fund, Affirmative Investments and Timezone Group International

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Using nanoparticles to transform glass

Featured image above: the making of a glass optical fibre

The innovative method was developed by researchers from The University of Adelaide in South Australia, which enables the glass to hold transparency and proceed into various shapes including very fine optical fibres.

Principal researcher Tim Zhao says this new method of injecting upconversion nanoparticles into glass could have multiple applications including remote nuclear radiation sensors, interactive 3D display screens and biomedical engineering equipment.

“For example, neuroscientists currently use dye injected into the brain and lasers to be able to guide a glass pipette to the site they are interested in,” he says.

“If fluorescent nanoparticles were embedded in the glass pipettes, the unique luminescence of the hybrid glass could act like a torch to guide the pipette directly to the individual neurons of interest.”

Upconversion nanoparticles are able to convert near infrared radiations with higher energy emissions or visible light.

They exhibit unique luminescent properties and show great potential for imaging and biodetection assays.

Zhao, a researcher at the University of Adelaide’s Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS), says previous methods of integrating upconversion nanoparticles into glass did not allow researchers to have control over the nanoparticle properties, making it difficult to disperse.

“The key to our method was finding a balanced temperature. We heated the glass at a really high temperature, about 550-575°C, making it really homogenous to return its optical properties,” he says.

“After it was melted we lowered the temperature down as low as possible. Lowering the temperature makes it foam like water and then like honey at room temperature. At that point we enter in our nanoparticles and the glass helps it all disperse in time.”

Although the new method was developed with upconversion nanoparticles, researchers believe their new “direct-doping” approach can be generalised to other nanoparticles with interesting photonic, electronic and magnetic properties.

“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.

“With our new direct doping method, which involves synthesising 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.

“We are heading towards a whole new world of hybrid glass and devices for light-based technologies.”

The research was conducted in collaboration with Macquarie University and University of Melbourne. It was published online in the journal Advanced Optical Materials.

– Caleb Radford

This article was first published by The Lead on 7 June 2016. Read the original article here.

Australia’s first nanoscience facility launched

Leading scientific figures, pioneers and representatives from key organisations internationally are visiting Sydney for today’s launch of the Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (AINST) – and the official opening of its headquarters – the most advanced facility for nanoscience in the region – where design, fabrication and testing of devices can occur under one roof.

Officially opening the new $150 million Sydney Nanoscience Hub will be Australian Academy of Science’s President Andrew Holmes AM. Senior executives from Microsoft in the USA are also visiting to tour the building, and scientists speaking at the launch include one of Israel’s top physicists, Moti Segev – whose centre at the Technion is collaborating on a project with the University of Sydney and the NSW Government.

Nanoscience is expected to be more impactful this century than the industrial revolution in the 19th century. But “the buildings in which we work, rather than our imaginations, are what’s been limiting the science,” says Associate Professor Michael Biercuk, formerly a consultant to the US government organisation the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and now the research leader of a quantum flagship in AINST.

More than six years in the making, the award-winning Sydney Nanoscience Hub was co-funded with $40 million from the federal government, includes teaching spaces alongside publicly available core research facilities that will support  fundamental research as well as the work of startups and established industry.

AINST hosts some of the capabilities of the Australian National Fabrication Facility and of the Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility – both co-funded by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). Researchers at the Institute contribute to two Australian Council Centres of Excellence:  the Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS); and the Centre for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQuS).

Professor Benjamin Eggleton, the Director of CUDOS who also heads the photonics flagship at AINST, says photonics (the study of photons – the building blocks of light) was already delivering real-world solutions: “Photonics is the backbone of the internet and underpins a $7 trillion industry,” Eggleton says.

“Our team has led the world in photonic-based chip processing and we are now working on building a photonic chip – or a lab on a chip – that may one day be compatible with mobile phones, enabling them to sense environmental pollution or be used for testing blood samples to diagnose health issues.”

Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence says the University-wide AINST reached across traditional disciplinary boundaries.

“The Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology continues the University of Sydney’s tradition in addressing multidisciplinary issues in a unique way to ensure that we are ready to solve the great challenges of science, engineering and beyond,” he says.

AINST Director, Professor Thomas Maschmeyer, will also head one of five initiating flagships – in energy and environment – and this month announced an investment valued at $11 million from the United Kingdom into a university nano spin-off.

“There is little doubt that society must progressively transition to non-fossil-based energy,” Maschmeyer says.

Professor David Reilly, research leader of the AINST’s quantum measurement and control flagship, says breakthroughs at the nanoscale hold the key to major advances in areas such as artificial intelligence and security.

“The challenge for us over the next few years is to take the physics results that we have probing the basic phenomena of quantum mechanics and see those results turn into technologies.”

Director of the Sydney Nanoscience Hub building Professor Simon Ringer says new science would be enabled through this purpose-built facility for nanoscience – the first in Australia.

“This is the best building of its kind in our region. It will allow us to operate research instruments that enable us to ask questions at the frontiers of science.”

AINST Director of Community and Research, Professor Zdenka Kuncic says the ‘rules of the game’ in nanoscience were still being worked out.

“Perhaps the most exciting aspect of nanoscience is the potential for new discoveries, including in health and medicine,” she says.

“We have only scratched the surface of the new knowledge that remains to be revealed.”

This article was first published by The University of Sydney on 20 April 2016. Read the original article here.