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MQ Photonics Research Centre

Postgraduate Programs

Special emphasis is placed on facilitating postgraduate training of Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students in optical physics and photonic science. As part of their project, successful applicants will be eligible for significant funds to support  conference and/or field work travel costs, project needs, computers and other research expenses. The MQ Photonics Research Centre is now seeking new postgraduate HDR (Higher Degree by Research) students who are interested in doing research with us.

If you are interested in doing a PhD or Masters in Research or Certificate in Postgraduate Research within the MQ Photonics Research Centre, please apply by:

1) Selecting a project from the list below (or alternatively search research areas for topics that interest you).

2) Express your interest to the named research group leader or nominated project contact person. 

3) In consultation with prospective supervisor, you will then apply for candidature. Information and instructions on how to submit an application can be found on the Higher Degree Research Office website and the application form is available here

If you are seeking a scholarship, there are many opportunities available on a competitive basis. For scholarship information please visit the MQ Photonics Scholarship Opportunities webpage.

You may also contact the Science Higher Degree Research Team if you need assistance with scholarship or admission procedures.

 

Examples of current projects on offer:

 

Novel coding and decoding in suspension arrays for accelerated biomolecular discovery and personalised medicine

Dr. Dayong Jin, Prof. Jim Piper (DVC Research), Prof. J. Paul Robinson (Purdue University, USA), Dr. Robert Leif ( San Diego, US)

Through the international research network, the potential candidate will undertake a biochemsity project using microparticle chemistry barcoding technique to establish an advanced multiplexing technique to rapidly analyse complex biological mixtures, such as cell lysates, food samples or body fluids. It will enable the analysis of not tens, but thousands or more distinctive molecular targets in a single test. This will build the foundations for future generation bioassays, paving the way to emerging personalised medicine. This will lead to new personal diagnostics tools for rapid genotype profiling, to better tailor therapy to the individual patient's specific characteristics. As well as the potential to improve health outcomes, the project will generate significant intellectual property and the opportunity for development of new diagnostic instrumentation in Australia. The ideal candidate is expected to have chemistry background, good team work skills to work with this international team. Additional scholarship will also be available to support for travel to US to work with the two US supervisors.

Contact dayong.jin@mq.edu.au

Application of Pulsed Vacuum-Ultraviolet Photon Sources to Surface Science of Glass and Medical Polymers

Dr Robert Carman, Prof Deb Kane

Macquarie University has a patented, platform technology for plasma based, high-peak-power, pulsed vacuum-ultraviolet photon sources which have broad range of application. This project will investigate how the pulse shape and pulse length emitted by a Xenon source at 172 nm affect the surface science of optical material and medical polymer surfaces. The project will involve moderate power scaling of the Xenon plasma-based source and experiment and theory of the photonic/surface interactions that lead to modified surface parameters. These modified surface parameters are predicted to be favourable in many of the commercial applications of the materials investigated.

Contact robert.carman@mq.edu.au

Short Pulse and Tunable Microchip Lasers

A/Prof David Coutts, Dr David Spence

Microchip lasers are solid-state lasers where the laser mirrors are directly coated on a thin piece of laser material. Such lasers find many applications e.g. laser ranging, biophotonics, and materials processing. Building upon exciting preliminary results, we propose to study a new class of microchip lasers which is broadly tunable. For example we will use Ti:Sapphire and cerium based laser crystals and incorporate wedge etalon tuning elements. Systems for generating very short pulses (down to few 10's of ps) will also be investigated, including novel master oscillator-power amplifier techniques. We will also use these lasers for nonlinear optics including nonlinear microscopy. The project will involve both experimental and some laser modeling work and would suit a student with an interest in lasers and optics.

Contact david.coutts@mq.edu.au

Mid-infrared fibre laser sources

Dr Alex Fuerbach, A/Prof Mick Withford

A polarized narrow linewidth thulium doped fibre laser is a key enabling component for a range of Defence countermeasure applications and general fibre laser research. Fibre lasers offer an attractive architecture with many advantages when compared with other solid state technologies in terms of compactness, alignment stability, mechanical robustness, high brightness, intrinsic thermal scalability and overall electrical to optical efficiency which has seen their widespread use in infrared applications. The objective of this research agreement is the development and demonstration of a fibre laser with a high beam quality at a centre wavelength of 2 micron with an ultra-narrow laser linewidth.

Contact alex.fuerbach@mq.edu.au

High Energy Femtosecond Oscillators

Dr Alex Fuerbach, Dr David Spence

The aim of this project is to investigate methods to generate ultrashort laser pulses at MHz repetition rate with energies approaching the microjoule range. Potential schemes which will be studied include, but are not limited to, extended-cavity oscillators, cavity-dumped systems and/or quasi-continuous wave (cw) amplifiers. Techniques to shorten the achievable pulse duration based on spectral broadening due to self-phase modulation in photonic crystal fibres will be developed. The candidate will closely collaborate with one of the leading manufacturers of femtosecond laser sources and will thus have the oportunity to gain experience in an academic as well as in an industrial research environment.

Contact alex.fuerbach@mq.edu.au

Fabrication of integrated waveguide lasers

Dr Alex Fuerbach, Prof Mick Withford

Our group has developed a state of the art femtosecond laser-direct write processing facility that enables the fabrication of both waveguides and reflective structures (gratings) inside actively doped transparent dielectrics. Based on these unique capabilities, we are seeking a PhD student who will investigate different techniques to realise novel integrated waveguide lasers. This project will include the fabrication of depressed-clading waveguide-lasers in fluoride-glasses for the realisation of mid-infrared laser sources as well as investigations aiming at developing methods to induce refractive index changes in crystalline materials.

Contact alex.fuerbach@mq.edu.au

Diamond Photonics

A/Prof Rich Mildren

Diamonds have highly unusual and extreme properties that are ideal for creating a new class active laser components with potential applications ranging from biomedicine, defence and environmental sensing. The MQ Photonics Research Centre is seeking a PhD student to investigate the development of novel side-pumped diamond Raman lasers and waveguide micro-resonators for diamond Raman lasers systems. The candidate will have the opportunity to create new devices as well as pursue applications. We are a growing team of researchers aspiring to break new ground in diamond optics, laser physics, micro-optical systems and nonlinear Raman interactions.

Contact rich.mildren@mq.edu.au

Nonlinear Dynamics of Semiconductor Lasers

Prof Deb Kane, Dr Peter Browne

National and international research collaborations provide the MQU group with state-of-the-art integrated semiconductor quantum dot lasers for our laser nonlinear dynamics research. This project will research the laser dynamics of these novel devices, building on prior research [eg Unlocking Dynamical Diversity: Optical Feedback Effects on Semiconductor Lasers, Eds DM Kane and KA Shore, Wiley and Sons (2005)]. This project will be at the forefront of laser nonlinear dynamics research, internationally. These devices have potential to be developed for applications in, for example, communications and imaging. The project will develop experimental, theoretical and collaborative research skills.

Contact deb.kane@mq.edu.au

Laser Processing for Cultural Heritage Conservation and Public Good Applications

Prof Deb Kane, Dr Peter Browne

New and modified laser processing techniques continue to be researched for a myriad of applications in industrial, art and cultural heritage conservation, and environmental contexts. This project will research laser processing solutions for several identified problems in Australian Indigenous and Pacific cultural heritage conservation and textile cleaning. All the studies will be completed as quantitative science and can be described as laser-materials interactions. New laser processing solutions will be informed by the detailed scientific understanding gained as the project progresses, The project will develop experimental, theoretical and collaborative research skills.

Contact deb.kane@mq.edu.au

Particle-Surface Dynamics Excited by Pulsed Lasers

Prof Deb Kane, Dr Peter Browne

Currently, our ability to measure and understand the dynamics of a micro or a nanoparticle on a surface caused by absorption of a pulse of light; in terms of the optics, the temperature and phase changes, the thermoelastics, and the mechanics; all with due attention to differences at the micro/nanoscale compared with the well known macroscale, is in its infancy. The project will make significant development in demonstrating experimental techniques to record the dynamics quantitatively. The aim will also be to decouple components of the dynamics caused by thermal effects from the non-thermal effects. The project will develop experimental, theoretical and collaborative research skills.

Contact deb.kane@mq.edu.au

Narrowband Tunable Optical Parametric Oscillators for Spectroscopic Applications

Prof Brian Orr, A/Prof David Coutts, Dr Yabai He

We aim to develop innovative wavelength-control methods for optical parametric oscillator, laser and nonlinear-optical devices that emit narrowband tunable coherent light for gas sensing and for high-resolution spectroscopic measurements from the infrared to the vacuum ultraviolet. The narrow spread of wavelengths and high optical power density result in instruments capable of high sensitivity and molecular specificity, to enable advanced spectroscopic sensing of particular gas-phase molecules (e.g., in industrial processes, medical diagnostics, security checks, and the atmosphere). These techniques will also be applied for fundamental quantum-electrodynamic studies and to explore dissociation dynamics and energetics in highly excited molecules.

Contact brian.orr@mq.edu.au

Coherent Raman Micro-spectroscopy and Imaging

Prof Brian Orr, A/Prof David Coutts, Dr Yabai He

Nonlinear-optical processes in intense laser beams enable biological materials (e.g., tissues, cells, biomolecules, chemical media) to be microscopically identified, imaged and characterised. This PhD project aims to advance one such approach - coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) - by improving existing confocal microscopic techniques (e.g., epi-detected CARS microscopy), developing cost-effective laser-based probes (e.g., fibre-optical CARS endoscopy), and discovering new micro-spectroscopic information (e.g., concerning pharmacokinetics of anti-cancer drugs). Such outcomes are in the rapidly expanding area of biophotonics, where physical and optical research can provide innovative tools and fresh insights into key biomedical processes.

Contact brian.orr@mq.edu.au

Novel Techniques for Gas Sensing by Cavity Ringdown Spectroscopy

Prof Brian Orr, A/Prof David Coutts, Dr Yabai He

Cavity ringdown (CRD) spectroscopy is a cavity-enhanced technique that provides very high sensitivity for detection of weak absorption spectra of gas-phase molecules. It measures the decay time of radiation inside an optical cavity, rather than the transmitted optical power or energy as in conventional absorption spectroscopy. Our proposed experiments will use tunable coherent radiation (for example, from a laser or nonlinear-optical source) that may be either pulsed (with high repetition rate for optimal duty factor) or continuous wave (using our innovative rapidly swept CRD techniques). Ongoing research will concentrate on maximising detection sensitivity attainable with compact, cost-effective instrument designs.

Contact brian.orr@mq.edu.au

Continuous-wave Raman Lasers Operating at Yellow and UV Wavelengths

Dr Helen Pask, Prof Jim Piper, A/Prof David Spence

Diode-pumped crystalline Raman lasers are practical and efficient sources of laser output at otherwise "hard to reach" wavelengths. They use stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) in nonlinear crystals to shift the output wavelength further into the infrared. When combined with frequency doubling, efficient conversion to many visible and UV wavelengths occurs. Raman lasers are unique in many ways and the physics involved gives rise to interesting and unusual effects. This research project will build on our recent success in developing cw yellow sources for medical, biomedical and remote sensing applications, and will involve a combination of experimental and numerical modeling.

Contact helen.pask@mq.edu.au

Ultrafast Raman Lasers

A/Prof David Spence

We are collaborating with a UK company M Squared Lasers to use Raman laser science to expand the capability of standard ultrafast laser sources to new wavelength ranges. Using commercial Ti:Sapphire and VECSEL lasers, we will study how to convert these lasers to yellow, orange and red wavelengths, and explore the capability and limitations on the Raman approach in the picosecond and femtosecond regime. We will also collaborate with Stratchclyde University, UK, who need lasers of this type for high-resolution imaging, and femtosecond release of drugs.

Contact david.spence@mq.edu.au

Developing the 'Ti:Sapphire of the UV': New femtosecond laser sources in the deep ultraviolet

A/Prof David Spence, A/Prof David Coutts

Ultrafast 'femtosecond' lasers are work-horses of optical science. They are used as 'strobes' to freeze fast action on unprecedentedly short timescales. They can be used to drive high-power physics experiments, such as ionizing plasmas, and can be used to machine metals and glasses. The ubiquitous femtosecond laser is the Ti:Sapphire laser; it operates only in the infra-red spectral region, and experimenters can find this limiting their studies. We are developing the world's first femtosecond laser source operating in the ultraviolet. Based on a crystal doped with cerium, these lasers have the potential to directly generate pulses as short as 3 femtoseconds at 290 nm, and there is the potential to further shorten the output to acheive attosecond pulses. This is an exciting project, applying the knowledge and experience gained with the industry-standard Ti:Sapphire lasers to this new laser material that has been dubbed 'the Ti:Sapphire of the UV'.

Contact david.spence@mq.edu.au

Guided Wave Polymer Optics

Prof Graham Town

The aim of this project is to develop novel and inexpensive guided-wave polymer optical devices (e.g. optical fibres and integrated-optical devices) by clever microstructuring of novel nanocomposite materials (i.e. with tailored optical properties, including gain) for applications in optical sensing, switching, and telecommunications. Polymer devices have the advantage of being relatively bio-friendly, are relatively inexpensive to process, and are more readily modified to achieve specific optical properties than materials such as silica. The project will support continuing ARC and DEST funded work in the areas of microstructured (or "holey") optical fibres and materials development with collaborators in the UK and Australia.

Contact graham.town@mq.edu.au or refer to the research group webpage.

Applications of Multiwavelength Fibre Lasers

Prof Graham Town, Dr Ken Grant, DSTO

Multiwavelength fibre lasers are of interest for their narrow linewidth and compact construction. Simultaneous lasing of several single longitudinal modes in a fibre laser was recently demonstrated by Macquarie University researchers (Pradhan et al, Opt. Lett 31(20) 2961 (2006)). Such lasers have significant advantages in sensing systems, e.g. in signal-to-noise-ratio and selectivity. The aim of this project is to develop applications of the latter laser, e.g. in distance measurement, spectroscopy, and microwave photonics (e.g. wireless distribution technology).

Contact graham.town@mq.edu.au or refer to the research group webpage.

Polymer Fibre Sensors

Prof Graham Town

A novel type of microstructured polymer fibre has recently been demonstrated at Macquarie University (R.M. Chaplin, G.E. Town, M.J. Withford, D. Baer, Proc. Integrated Photonics Research and Applications Topical Meeting (IPRA) and Nanophotonics Topical Meeting, Uncasville, May 24-28, NFC4, 2006). The aim of this project is to develop applications for this and other microstructured polymer fibres as sensing devices, particularly for in-vivo biomedical sensing. In such applications microstructured polymer fibres have some significant advantages over alternative technologies, e.g. the voids in holey fibres may be filled with fluid or used to pump small quantities of fluid into/out of the region of interest, polymer fibres have a much larger breaking strain than silica fibres, and polymer is significantly more "bio-friendly" than glass fibres. This project will investigate how these advantages may be exploited in biomedical and/or environmental sensing applications.

Contact graham.town@mq.edu.au or refer to the research group webpage.

Laser Direct Writing of Photonic Devices: Investigation of laser-induced modification of glass

Prof Michael Withford, Dr Alex Fuerbach

Laser direct write micro-fabrication, where an ultrafast laser is focussed to a small, intense spot, and translated under computer control with respect to a target sample, can be used to modify the internal properties of bulk glass substrates and write "optical wires" (or waveguides) and discrete components such as amplifiers and filters. To date it is unclear what role the thermal history of the glass host has on this process. The project will undertake detailed studies investigating the influence between this aspect and the quality of photonic devices inscribed in key photonic glasses, as part of a large collaboration with our partners in a Marie Curie International Research Exchange Scheme: University Paris-Sud, Friedrich Schiller University and University of Southampton.

Contact michael.withford@mq.edu.au

Ultrafast laser Direct Writing of Novel Waveguide Lasers

Prof Michael Withford, Dr Peter Dekker, Dr Graham Marshall, A/Prof Mike Steel

Our group has developed a state of the art femtosecond laser-direct write processing facility that enables the fabrication of both waveguides and reflective structures (gratings) inside a range of passive and active glasses. This project will investigate both fibre and planar (written with the aforementioned facility) waveguide amplifiers, and develop processing strategies for integrating gratings within waveguide amplifiers. The end goal will be the realization of single and multi-wavelength waveguide lasers for defense and biophotonic applications. Our collaborators include the University of Adelaide.

Contact michael.withford@mq.edu.au

Background-free optical imaging of tag-free macromolecules

A/Prof Andrei Zvyagin

In most cases in optics, imaging resolution is limited to roughly the wavelength of light. At the same time, the optical detection sensitivity of individual particles is theoretically unlimited. Its practical achievement is limited by the signal-to-noise ratio, where the signal represents a number of detected photons from the particle, and noise comes from unwanted photons, termed background. Therefore, the progress in individual particle imaging relies on efficiency of the background suppression. In 80-s, the efficient image processing algorithm was introduced resulting in dramatic improvement of image quality, which permitted biologists to study cellular process in vivo with great amount of details. For example, filamentous cellular structures, microtubules, sized 25-nm in diameter, were routinely imaged. In recent times, imaging of individual 2.5-nm gold particles has been reported pushing detection sensitivity to such a level that optical detection of macromolecules, e.g. individual proteins, may become a reality. Click here for more details.

Contact andrei.zvyagin@mq.edu.au

Application of multiphoton microscopy to study of collagen regeneration

A/Prof Andrei Zvyagin

Multiphoton microscopy (MPM) is an emerging imaging modality, which enables in vivo imaging of biological matter on the subcellular level. The key subsystem of MPM is a (very short pulsewidth) femto-second laser whose radiation is tightly focussed in a biological specimen, so that optical intensity becomes enormous for a short time of the pulse duration. This elicits non-linear optical response from the biological matter in the form of fluorescence or second-harmonic generation. In either case, the specimen now responds to the optical excitation. By rastering the focal spot across the specimen, an en face image of exquisite quality is acquired. This mechanism of MPM image formation entails the most valuable property of MPM, "optical sectioning", i.e. clearing a micron-thin image slice from the turbidity of the rest of the specimen. Click here for more details.

Contact andrei.zvyagin@mq.edu.au

Application of luminescent nanodiamonds to intracellular imaging

A/Prof Andrei Zvyagin

Imaging at the molecular level has recently become a reality, if specific molecular sites are tagged with "optical labels". In this case scenario, even individual molecules become visible in the cell. These optical labels can be engineered as fluorophores, e.g. fluorescent dyes or quantum dots. Unfortunately, photoinstability and toxicity of these labels limit the scope of optical imaging, especially in the context of tracking individual molecules in the cell. Click here for more details.

Contact andrei.zvyagin@mq.edu.au