11/02/14 – Quantum Plasmonics – Taming Light at the Nanoscale
University of Cambridge
How tightly can we confine light? For many years this was thought to be on the order of the optical wavelength, limiting the smallest volumes to a million cubic nanometres, but new realisations are allowing us to achieve 1 cubic nanometre. This opens up
a new regime where we can watch single molecules, and sculpt directly on the nanoscale using light. By combining metallic nano-objects at very close distances, we squeeze light into these tiny dimensions at resonant wavelengths whose colour depends exquisitely on the nanoscale geometry. Below 1nm gaps,
we detect the influence of quantum mechanics in the optical signatures, at room temperature and ambient conditions. This talk will describe the advances that make such optical compression possible, and what it will unlock for future science.
25/03/14 – Opening Up the Mid-Infrared Using Fibre Lasers
University of Sydney
The mid-infrared part of the infrared spectrum is an exciting area for research as most biological and chemical substances have strong absorption with light in this region. In my talk, I will discuss ways to generate mid-infrared light using high power fibre
lasers in an effort to provide versatile and reliable light for numerous existing and new applications in medicine, industry, research and defence. Opportunities for collaboration will be identified.
01/04/14 – Control Engineering in Quantum Coherent Systems
University of Sydney
Tremendous research activity worldwide has focused on attempting to harness the exotic properties of quantum physics for new applications in metrology, computation, and communications – a push to develop engineered quantum systems. Underlying any such
capability is the need to exert control over a chosen quantum system in order to coax it into performing useful tasks. In this talk we introduce the challenge of control engineering in these systems and show how advances in control promise to accelerate the development of quantum technologies. We motivate
and introduce one framework that is proving useful in real experimental quantum systems: Open-loop control. Through a presentation of a series of experiments using trapped atomic ions as a model quantum system, we describe the utility of open-loop control in realizing noise filters protecting quantum
systems against decoherence. We include presentation of experimental results describing the role of these control techniques for applications in quantum computation and quantum simulation, showing the versatility of the trapped-ion platform and a path towards large-scale quantum technologies.
08/04/14 – Particles, Photons, and Phages
University of California Davis
Combustion-generated, and intentionally generated nano materials can pose significant threats to human health. The engineering of novel materials can provide new tools for application to nano toxicology. In particular, the use of lanthanide-based
phosphor materials can provide new ways of examining the toxicity and translocation of these materials in living systems. In addition to their potential toxicity, nano materials offer many new and exciting possibilities for application to sensing the environment around us and within our bodies. Super-paramagnetic
nanoparticles have been used in a rotating microfluidic system with a stationary magnetic field to assemble long chains that improved mixing under very low Reynolds number conditions. The interaction of magnetic forces between particles and fluid forces that break them up have been examined and exploited
to produce enhanced assays for proteins and other biomolecules. The optical properties of up-converting phosphors have been used to produce a new class of optically-active nano materials for use in a wide range of biological applications that will be discussed. Finally, the electrophoretic manipulation
of nano particles, including bacteriophages that infect bacteria, into the structure of a photonic crystal has been demonstrated to provide an incredibly sensitive platform for application of both protein and DNA assays for use in a wide variety of possible biological applications: in the detection of
infectious diseases; detection of protein biomarkers of disease; in the detection of mutations in DNA; finally, in the detection of bacteriophages that may have a significant economic impact on fermentation processes, including the dairy industry and the pharmaceutical industry.
15/04/14 – Galaxies from the Dawn of Time
The arrival of modern space telescopes, such as the Hubble Space Telescope have ushered in a true golden age in astronomy. We can now peer farther and deeper into the universe than ever before and are getting an astonishing glimpse of the distant past. The most
sensitive astronomical picture ever taken, the so-called Hubble Ultra Deep Field, reveals a time long gone when galaxies like our Milky way were only just forming, bursting with explosive star formation and ultramassive black holes. Hubble’s powerful successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, is
now being built. Launched in 2018, it will allow astronomers to reach the ultimate goal: studying the entire cosmic history, from the very first exploding stars just after the Big Bang, to the rich universe filled with diverse populations of galaxies today.
29/04/14 – Getting Ready for the Changing Sky
Orsola De Marco
In this talk I will bring together planetary nebulae (PN) hydrodynamic simulations of binary interactions, intermediate luminosity optical transients and more in a review of the work past, present and future that’s being carried out by our group. I will
start the story with planetary nebulae and the realisation that by and large these nebulae are not the product of peaceful single star evolution. They are instead likely to be the result of a binary interaction. Among the many possible binary interactions, we studied the common envelope interaction which,
aside from being responsible for one in five PN, is also the gateway to a staggering amount of binary phenomena, including supernova type Ia. Simulations of common envelopes are not very advanced, and we have shown recently just how much we do not understand, along with ways to improve. Aside from simulations,
there are other ways to understand these interactions, and I bring observations and analytical considerations to bear on common envelope jets, proposing them as one of the best way to understand common envelopes. It is also likely, that many binary interactions have a light signature and indeed there
are outbursts that were ascribed to common envelopes interactions and mergers, such as V838 Mon or V1309 Sco. Such observations will multiply with new time-sensitive observing platforms, such as the LSST. Interestingly, today we think that some nebulae, including some PN, may be the aftermath of these
outbursts, observed a few hundred years down the line. Our simulations of a variety of interactions (from those with stars in eccentric orbits, to those where the companion is only a planet), attempt to explore parameter space, an exploration that will be enhanced by our new light module to model and
predict lightcurves from transients.
06/05/14 – Light Wave-Particle Duality: From Newton to Quantum Optics
Kavli Royal Society International Centre, Chicheley Hall, Buckinghamshire and Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London
Attempts to understand the nature of light have been central to the historical development of physics. Although understanding the duality of wave and particle
challenges our classical intuition, one cannot escape asking hard questions on this issue, and indeed this subject was at the heart of Bohr-Einstein debate in the early years of the 20th century. The emergence of quantum optics and especially studies of the nature of nonclassical light and its exploitation
in quantum computing and quantum cryptography have put this back at the heart of current physics. This talk will review the development of wave particle duality, discuss its central place in the modern theory of quantum optics, and consider implications of the subject for current research.
13/05/14 – When Did Plate Tectonics Begin?
The Earth cooled from a probably largely molten state 4.57 billion years ago to its present state where plate tectonics operates. Plate tectonics describes the lateral movement of rigid plates of lithosphere up to 250 km thick, whose movements are controlled
by convection currents in the solid mantle. However, the time at which plate tectonics began to function is hotly debated, principally due to the rarity of evidence in the rock record: most rocks now found at the Earth’s surface are younger than 550 million years, and examples from the Archean
(4.0 – 2.5 Ga) form just a small fraction of present crustal rocks. Many lines of evidence that underpinned the plate tectonic revolution around 50 years ago cannot be applied to Archean rocks, and so we are left discussing indirect geological and geochemical evidence. This presentation discusses
the options and attempts to make sense of the blurry signals from the early history of the Earth.
20/05/14 – ARC Centre of Excellence in Nanoscale BioPhotonics
While an understanding of many of the building blocks and processes of life has been forged by taking cells and systems outside the body, much more can be learnt from working within. The Centre of Excellence in Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) will perform the
science required to open new windows into the body. This interdisciplinary program will enable targeted measurements of biological, chemical and physical processes to be performed within the complex and dynamic microenvironment that cells experience, creating scientific insights and disruptive technologies.
27/05/14 – Artificial Synthesis of Complex Biological Nanomachines with DNA Origami Nanostructure Scaffolds
Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute
Nanoscale rotary motors are everywhere in nature. The largest and most sophisticated of these, the bacterial flagellar motor (BFM), is a >11 mega Dalton superstructure consisting of hundreds of proteins. Fuelled by an electrochemical gradient,
it is equipped with an impressive molecular engine that converts a flux of cations into mechanical rotation at speeds of up to 1700Hz, yet also allows the motor to shift into reverse in a handful of milliseconds, tune its speed and stop either via a molecular brake or clutch. The big question that arises
when considering such a massive and dynamic structure is simple: How it can possibly work? How can activity be coordinated such that proteins that are hundreds of angstroms apart orchestrate their motions to achieve a single purpose? Here, I describe a new research initiative to study complex biological
machines by artificially synthesising them from the bottom-up using DNA origami nanostructural scaffolds. I will discuss the general approach and potential implications of studying biology from the bottom-up.
03/06/14 – Quantum Information Processing with Single Atoms in Silicon
A phosphorus (31P) atom in silicon is, almost literally, the equivalent of a hydrogen atom in vacuum. It possesses electron and nuclear spins 1/2 which act as natural qubits, and the host material can be isotopically purified to be almost perfectly free of other
spin species, ensuring extraordinary coherence times. I will present the current state-of-the-art in silicon quantum information technologies. Both the electron and the nuclear spin of a single 31P atom can be read out in single-shot with high fidelity, through a nanoelectronic device compatible
with standard semiconductor fabrication. High-frequency microwave pulses can be used to prepare arbitrary quantum states of the spin qubits, with fidelity in excess of 99%. Our latest experiment on the 31P nucleus has established the record coherence time (35 seconds) for any single qubit in
solid state. Finally, I will discuss current efforts to scale up the system to multi-qubit quantum logic operations. We have proposed a new scheme for entangling two-qubit logic gates that does not require atomically precise placement of the 31P donors, and we are exploring cavity-mediated
long-distance spin coupling. These results show that silicon – the material underpinning the whole modern computing era – can be successfully adapted to host quantum information hardware.
10/06/14 – Cosmic Fullerines
University of Western Ontario
In recent years, the fullerene species C60 (and to a lesser extent C70) has been detected in a variety of astrophysical environments — from the circumstellar carbon-rich surroundings of evolved stars to interstellar reflection
nebulae and young stellar objects. Understanding how these species form, evolve and respond to their environment yields important insights into the characteristics of large aromatics in space — thought to be the main reservoir of organic material in space. Here, I will present an overview of what
we have learned about cosmic fullerenes from astronomical observations, with an emphasis on the conditions that appear to be conducive to the formation and/or detection of fullerenes in evolved stars environments, and their possible connection to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon molecules, hydrogenated
amorphous carbon grains and other dust components. I will also highlight some of the difficulties we still face in interpreting the astronomical observations, in particular concerning viable formation routes in space, and about the details of their excitation.
17/06/14 – Ultracold Electrons and Ions from Laser-Cooled Atoms
University of Melbourne
“Quantum technology” normally conjures thoughts of computation and communication, but also has exciting potential applications in new ways of measuring and imaging at the nanometer scale. Imaging is a vexing problem at the atomic scale, where
there is demand for new advances, for example to determine the structure of bio-molecules. We have developed a new source of high-coherence electron and ion bunches based on photoionisation of laser-cooled atoms. With laser control of the cold atom cloud, we can shape the charge bunches, and because
the particles are so cold, they retain their shape during propagation. While labelled by colleagues as “the world’s most expensive TV”, the cold atom electron/ion source offers the control needed to generate ultra-high-brightness bunches for coherent diffractive imaging at nanometer
and femtosecond resolution.
24/06/14 – Planetary Nebulae: Windows into the Soul of Stellar Death
Planetary nebulae (PN) are nothing to do with planets but are the ghostly, glowing shrouds of dying stars. They are extremely powerful astrophysical tools and fascinating objects in their own right. They offer a brief window into the soul of most stars lives,
including our own Sun and also hold the solution to mysteries of late stage stellar evolution. Over the last 15 years significant numbers of Galactic PNe have been discovered, more than doubling the totals accrued by all telescopes over the previous 200+ years. Most of these discoveries have been made
by the team at Macquarie University. The scope for modern PNe studies for the ~3500 Galactic PN now known should now reflect this new landscape, coloured and nuanced by these new discoveries and the massive, new high sensitivity, high resolution, multi-wavelength imaging surveys now available. Following
this motivation we provide, for the first time, an accessible, reliable on-line “one-stop” imaging and spectroscopic database for essential, up-to date information for all known Galactic PN to provide the community with the most complete data with which to undertake new science! In this presentation
Professor Parker will describe this powerful new utility and the associated fundamental PN research that has been undertaken and is still underway at Macquarie University.