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Smart Photonic Systems for Extremely Large Telescopes


Astrophotonics: work in a team that is developing cutting edge technologies for the new generation of extremely large telescopes.


Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn.

Research location

School of Physics

Program type



The basic project is to be involved in the integration and testing of a new concept astronomical instrument. This instrument will be tested “on sky” at the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) before being shipped off to an overseas location. It is expected that the student will be directly involved in the lab and AAT testing. The new astrophotonics labs are in the basement of the Physics Building. We are developing special fibres that suppress a large number of unwanted lines from the earth’s atmosphere. These fibres involve taper transitions (photonic lanterns) and parallel arrays of fibre Bragg gratings. We will assemble an optical test bench to focus light into these gratings. The light will be fed to an optical spectrum analyzer. We will test the stability of the equipment to stress, temperature and humidity. We will use different classes of light sources to establish the consistency and performance of the gratings. We will look at different ways of packaging the gratings for ease of transport. There are several other new photonic devices that we can test if time allows. These include a photonic spectrograph and an “imaging fibre” bundle, called a hexabundle.

Additional information

This is a potential research area for an Honours or a PhD student. The work will be in collaboration with the world-famous Anglo-Australian Observatory here in Sydney and they offer a top-up scholarship. The student needs to have a good working knowledge of some area of science or engineering. The project will make use of optics design packages, will involve a trip to a major telescope and will involve some basic optics preparation and tests in the lab.

HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

Want to find out more?

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 687

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