The Photonic Universe - faster, further, smarter

23 April 2009

The Institute of Photonics and Optical Science (IPOS), the newest institute in the University of Sydney and the only one of its kind in Australia, was launched on 23 April 2009 with a one-day symposium 'The Photonic Universe - Faster, Further, Smarter'.

IPOS research spans all areas of optics and photonics from fundamental to applied, including the groundbreaking areas of meta-materials and cloaking, speeding up and greening the internet, structural health monitoring, as well as the pioneering fields of astrophotonics, medical and quantum photonics.

"IPOS has broken new ground in terms of what we have achieved and the amazing future directions in which we are now headed," said Professor Ben Eggleton, ARC Federation Fellow and IPOS Director. "We're discovering new ways with photonics and optics that we never imagined."

Eggleton said that by working across diverse areas such as physics, mathematics, chemistry and microscopy, ideas that were once thought to be in the realm of fiction, such as invisibility or remote surgery, are now becoming reality.

"Photonics has only just touched on what it's capable of and being part of a broad team pushes us to truly explore new concepts and ideas even further. 'What if?' is a very exciting phrase," said Professor Eggleton.

At the same time as pioneering new ways to use photonics, Professor Eggleton says that IPOS has met their core objective to increase the internet to operate at terabit per second capacity and are now researching clever ways to ensure the power the net uses won't be a source of future energy crises.

"It's always exciting to solve a problem, such as speeding up the net, but at the same time you have to be responsible for the impact it will place on our resources. For instance one Google search equates to a kettle being boiled so you can imagine what our tech savvy society is doing to the world's power sources by constantly uploading images and movies. We're now looking at how optics can save energy and our planet."

Senator Anne McEwen, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts, and University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor, Dr Michael Spence, officially launched IPOS, which is based within the School of Physics.

"For many years researchers from the University of Sydney have led the world in developing technology for optical fibre networks and the research being undertaken at IPOS continues this," said Senator McEwen at the launch.

"What we see here today is the bringing together of a critical mass of expertise, which will deliver the breakthroughs we need to continue to progress this technology."

Following the launch, the symposium 'Faster, Further, Smarter' gave a fascinating international overview of photonics and optics. It included eminent speakers such as Professor Alan Willner pioneer of optical networking and Professor Pierre Kern the pioneer of astrophotonics.

IPOS is making plans for a major new building to house staff and research infrastructure. IPOS includes the activities of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) in the School of Physics, the former Optical Fibre Technology Centre, those of the Fibre Optics and Photonics Laboratory in the School of Electrical and Information Engineering, and astronomical instrumentation (Astrophotonics) programs of the Sydney Institute of Astronomy in the School of Physics.

IPOS draws together research and teaching expertise across the Schools of Physics, Electrical and Information Engineering, Mathematics and Chemistry, and the Electron Microscope Unit. In 2010 IPOS will launch a new Masters in Photonics program.

Learn more about IPOS at:

Contact: Katynna Gill

Phone: 02 9351 6997

Email: 3b3b444e235650490b2e082107431b110a610f551e5c5000