Home' InDaily : November 13th 2009 Contents John Brack, Australia 1920--1999, Jockeys heads
1956, watercolour, pen and ink, 16.5 x 44.5 cm;
Private collection, Melbourne, © Helen Brack
Art Gallery of South Australia, North Terrace, Adelaide
Open daily 10am -- 5pm www.artgallery.sa.gov.au
SonoAdv -- BRAC0016
November 13 - 19, 2009
The Independent Weekly
Humankind has been fascinated
with light since the dawn of
time. From stars in the night
sky to the use of fire to produce
warmth and comfort in the dark-
ness, our race has had an almost
primal connection with light.
Today, using the latest
techniques, we are able to control,
transmit and measure light in order
to make it serve our needs.
This science is cutting edge and
the new Institute for Photonics &
Advanced Sensing (IPAS) at the
University of Adelaide is a world
leader in it.
Photonics and advanced sensing
is simply the creation and use of
new tools that use light and sensors
in unique ways.
Science has hit the limits of what
can be measured in many areas,
and new technologies are required
to provide solutions. Our work is
pushing the boundaries of physics
to use light to measure the world
This research has the potential
to produce benefits in areas such as
health, the environment, telecom-
munications, defence, and in a wide
range of other fields and industries.
But what does IPAS do?
Photonics is the science of
generating, transmitting, changing
and detecting light, and optical
fibres and lasers are essential tools
to make this work.
While these tools have been
around for many years, at IPAS we
are developing and making a new
generation of smart optic fibres
that enable us to transmit and alter
light in ways not done before.
Over the last five years we have
made more than 150 unique fibres
with a variety of properties.
The "advanced sensing" part of
our work is where the application
of light takes on new and exciting
forms, and it is where our research
in the science of light crosses over
with other areas of expertise.
By being able to use our fibres
as sensors rather than just using
them as pipes to transmit light, we
can develop tools that, for example,
could easily detect the presence of
a flu virus at an airport; could help
IVF specialists to determine which
egg should be chosen for fertilisa-
tion; could detect bomb-making
residue, or alert maintenance crews
to corrosion in the structure of an
Our team is working across many
sectors of key strategic importance
to the Australian economy,
including food and wine, defence,
environmental monitoring and
One of the most recent examples
of our work deals with how to
measure the maturation of wine
without altering the wine. The
problem faced was how to test the
wine without opening the barrel,
which would allow oxygen to enter
and affect the wine.
At IPAS, we can create optical
fibres the thickness of a human
hair that have a hole running
through the middle of them.
Within this hole we suspend a
"nano-rail" and it s this that turns
a pipe for light into an advanced
When the optical fibre is inserted
into the wine barrel, tiny amounts
of wine are drawn up into the fibre
and surround the nano-rail. When
we pass light down the nano-rail
it interacts with the wine and this
allows us to measure what chemi-
cals are present, the temperature
all without opening the barrel.
To give you some idea of how
small and complex these optical
fibre structures are, if the holes
were the size of the Heysen Tunnels
in the Adelaide Hills, then our
fibres would stretch from North
Terrace to the moon. They are
extraordinary in shape and design.
As well as working with the
Australian wine, IPAS is also
closely linked with the Defence
Science & Technology Organisation
(DSTO), a key supporter and
partner in translating our scientific
discoveries into practical solutions.
The federal and state govern-
ments, DSTO, Defence SA and
the University of Adelaide have
committed more than $38 million
to support IPAS. Scientists have
pledged to create a culture of
research excellence and to make
IPAS a place where collaboration
will create breakthroughs in
This is one area of science in
which Adelaide can truly say that it
is leading the world.
■ Professor Tanya Monro is a
Federation Fellow at the University
of Adelaide and is director of
the new Institute for Photonics &
Advanced Sensing, which is being
launched in Adelaide today.
Scientists and industry are switching on to new uses of light, writes Tanya Monro
Photo: Jenny Groom
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