Physical sciences

Reinventing the laser

Caring for Country in Arnhem Land
Macquarie University Eureka Prize winners

Macquarie University congratulates its winners in the 2017 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes and the winner of the Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher.

High-power diamond lasers invented at Macquarie University

High-power lasers have many potential applications: from medical imaging to manufacturing, shooting down drones or space junk, or powering deep space probes. But current laser technologies overheat at high power.

Rich Mildren and his team have developed a technique to make diamond lasers that, in theory, have extraordinary power range. Five years ago, their lasers were just a few watts in power. Now they’ve reached 400 watts, close to the limit for comparable conventional lasers.

Rich Mildren won the Defence Science and Technology Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia.

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Reinventing the laser

High-power diamond lasers, invented at Macquarie University, Eureka finalist

High-power lasers have many potential applications: from medical imaging to manufacturing, shooting down drones or space junk, or powering deep space probes. But current laser technologies overheat at high power.

Rich Mildren and his team have developed a technique to make diamond lasers that, in theory, have extraordinary power range. Five years ago, their lasers were just a few watts in power. Now they’ve reached 400 watts, close to the limit for comparable conventional lasers.

Their calculations suggest that their diamond laser technology could handle over a thousand times the current power. They’ve also shown that they can use diamond to focus multiple laser beams into a single beam. And they can create almost any frequency of light.

Diamond is an outstanding optical material and exceptionally good at dissipating heat. But it’s not very good at generating a laser beam as its dense structure makes it difficult to introduce the impurity additives normally needed to amplify light. Until now.

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Radar-in-a-suitcase makes bridges safer

Assessing ageing bridges just got safer and easier, thanks to a high-tech radar device that fits inside a suitcase.

Developed by Dr Lihai Zhang of The University of Melbourne as part of a collaborative research project supported by The Australia-Indonesia Centre, the IBIS-S radar technology can scan a bridge in 15 minutes from a kilometre away with an accuracy of 0.01mm, quickly assessing its condition and stability.

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Putting a window and lasers in a ship’s hull

Melbourne and Indonesian scientists work to improve shipping efficiency

Scientists available for interview in Bahasa Indonesia and English. Video overlay and photos of ferry available below.

Read the release in Bahasa Indonesia.

Every shipping manager wages an endless battle against fouling – the bacteria, seaweed, barnacles and other marine life that take residence on the hull of ships. This biofouling is thought to add more than 20 per cent to the fuel costs of commercial shipping. That’s a big cost for the maritime trading nations of Australia and Indonesia.

Using lasers and a window in a ship’s hull, researchers will assess how quickly the efficiency of the ship declines, and then how to balance fuel efficiency and the cost of putting a ship in dry dock to clean it.

A ship travelling between Java and South Samatra has had 30 centimetre windows installed in its hull for the research. Credit: Nadia Astari

A ship travelling between Java and South Samatra has had 30 centimetre windows installed in its hull for the research. Credit: Nadia Astari

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Loose joints; safe water; the limits of executive power – 2013 Menzies scholars

Sir Robert Menzies’ legacy continues
Scholarships announced today to young leaders in physiotherapy, engineering, and the law in Sydney and Melbourne.

The treatment of “loose joints”, or hypermobility, a painful inherited condition particularly of adolescent girls; the provision of safe and adequate water resources to communities in Australia and the developing world; and examining the possibilities and limits of executive power—these are just some of the issues being tackled by this year’s crop of Menzies scholars. [continue reading…]