A collaborative research centre of excellence will develop ultra-precise measuring devices that could enable high-speed internet, better medical screening technologies and carbon emissions monitoring.
RMIT University will lead a consortium of universities and industry partners in the new $72 million ARC Centre of Excellence in Optical Microcombs for Breakthrough Science (COMBS), announced today by the Australian Research Council.
They will focus on bringing optical frequency comb technology – which translates electronic signals into light waves for high-precision measurement – out of the lab and into a wide range of real-world applications.
Centre Director, RMIT Distinguished Professor Arnan Mitchell, said it was a major milestone in the growing momentum of optical frequency comb technology.
“A photonic chip industry has finally emerged and the unique technology it produces will transform many fields of science,” he said.
“After so much hard work by so many people, the stars are finally aligning.”
The multi-disciplinary COMBS team includes world-leading experts from eight Australian universities (ANU, Monash, Swinburne, UTS, UniSA, Adelaide and Sydney) and 23 global partner organisations including The Garvan Institute, Advanced Navigation and the National Measurement Institute.
This investment in the Centre will develop a trained, versatile and diverse researcher workforce engaging collaboratively across fundamental science and technology, translation, enabling advances in multiple application areas.
Mitchell said the team spanning various career stages and disciplines had strength in diversity and a strong conviction to lead change in the Australian research community.
“We are passionate about improving equity, building Australian capability, educating the next generation and translating our research so that it really does achieve global impact,” he said.
RMIT Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, Professor Calum Drummond, said COMBS was perfectly aligned with RMIT’s mission to drive research with impact.
“The power of real-time information delivered by microcomb technologies is truly transformative. Microcombs will transform the way we measure everything around us, and in doing so change how we communicate, travel and live our lives,” Drummond said.
“The high-impact applications we will see coming out of this new centre will catapult Australian research and industry into new domains.”