ARC Centres of Excellence for School of Physics

19 July 2010

The School of Physics has been successful in having two Australian Research Council (ARC) Centres of Excellence funded from 2011 in the latest round of funding announced on 16 July 2010. The two new Centres have been funded for a total of $44.4 million from the ARC.

Professor Bryan Gaensler.
Professor Bryan Gaensler.

The two Centres are the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) with Professor Bryan Gaensler as Director, and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Ultrahigh Bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) with Professor Ben Eggleton as Director.

The ARC received 111 Expressions of Interest for funding for ARC Centres of Excellence across Australia in this round of funding, and approved funding for thirteen.

Aiming to enhance and develop Australia's research excellence through highly innovative and collaborative research, the ARC Centres of Excellence scheme builds Australia's human capacity in a range of research areas.

Receiving $20.6 million over seven years, CAASTRO, will boost Australia's outstanding track record as a world leader in astronomy, and will solve fundamental processing problems that can potentially be applied to communications, medical imaging and remote sensing.

"This is a hugely exciting development for Australian astronomy. Our country has invested massively in new telescopes, and also in powerful computers to analyse all the data that these instruments will produce," said Professor Bryan Gaensler. "Now through CAASTRO we can ensure that it will be Australian scientists who are taking the lead on these facilities, and that it will be our students and other young researchers who will be making ground-breaking discoveries."

"CAASTRO activities will have a strong focus on training the next generation of scientists, providing a legacy extending well beyond the Centre's lifetime. The students we mentor will lead the scientific discoveries made on future wide-field facilities, culminating in the ultimate all-sky telescope - the Square Kilometre Array," explained Professor Gaensler.

Professor Gaensler, will be joined by Physics colleagues Professor Elaine Sadler and A/Professor Scott Croom who are both Chief Investigators, and Dr Tara Murphy who is an Associate Investigator, in addition to Chief Investigators from the partner organisations.

Spanning seventeen partner organisations, CAASTRO has 32 named investigators, and aims to hire 25 scientific staff and nine support and administration staff in the first year, making CAASTRO a group of around 65 staff including students.

CUDOS has secured $23.8 million funding over seven years. Director, Professor Ben Eggleton, will be joined by Chief Investigators from the School of Physics: Professor Martijn de Sterke, Professor Ross McPhedran and Dr Boris Kuhlmey in addition to Chief Investigators from the partner organisations.

"This is a new Centre of Excellence that builds on the strong foundation of the current CUDOS with new Chief Investigators, new international links and end-user partnerships and a new vision," explained Professor Eggleton.

"We will build a world-leading research centre to create technology that will revolutionise information systems, create and develop Australian industry, and train and mentor young researchers in the science and application of nanophotonics and photonic processing," said Professor Eggleton.

"The outcomes will fuel research and development programs for decades, harnessing links between fundamental research and commercial applications through industry partners and start-up companies, and developing strong linkages between Australian and overseas universities and companies."

The new CUDOS is a collaboration across seven Australian universities and has major international links with partner organisations around the world.

"The Centre will take the next big step in optical systems by transforming photonic integrated circuits into a technology that will have a profound effect on economies and lifestyles around the world. This will enable the Internet to transfer vast amounts of data with significantly improved energy efficiency; it will lead to secure transmission using quantum photonics-based devices, and to the detection of mid-infrared signatures of light from distant stars and complex molecules of environmental or biochemical importance. We will achieve this by developing functional metamaterials with optical properties to control light and engineering them into miniature photonic processors," explained Professor Eggleton.

Additionally, School of Physics researchers have been announced as the Chief Investigators of three successful Centres of Excellence that will not based within the School.

Firstly there is the Centre for Engineered Quantum Systems - to be headquartered at University of Queensland, it includes the School's Quantum Group - Stephen Bartlett, Michael Biercuk, Andrew Doherty, and David Reilly as Chief Investigators.

Secondly, the School will be a node of the Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology to be headquartered at The University of NSW includes the School's materials scientist, David McKenzie, as Chief Investigator. Other partner universities include ANU, Queensland, Melbourne and Griffith.

Thirdly, the School will be a partner in the Centre for Particle Physics at the Tera-Scale to be headquartered at University of Melbourne includes the School's High Energy physicists - Kevin Varvell and Bruce Yabsley as Chief Investigators. Other Australian universities involved are Adelaide and Monash.

See all the successfully funded ARC Centres of Excellence across Australia at:

Contact: Alison Muir

Phone: 02 9036 5194

Email: 505e023b5e2b7c051c07083411414f2a0312052a4f1b455446