Colloquium Series 2019

Colloquium Series 2019

Colloquium Series 2019

During Session 1 our colloquia will generally be held on Wednesdays at 12pm. Venues will be confirmed prior to each session. Our departmental colloquium series includes speakers from across all physics sub-disciplines, and is intended to be delivered at the senior undergraduate to graduate level, engaging an audience of researchers in areas as diverse as biophysics and astronomy.

For more information or to express interest in giving a talk, Contact: Dr Devika Kamath:

Associate Professor Céline d'Orgeville - 27 November 2019

Speaker: Associate Professor Céline d'Orgeville, Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University

Venue: Department of Physics and Astronomy Multipurpose Room, 7 Wally's Walk, rm 2.300

Time: 12pm

Title: Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics for Astronomy and Space

Abstract: This presentation will provide an overview of Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics (LGS AO) research undertaken at the Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (RSAA). Adaptive Optics is often described as the instrumental technique used to “remove the twinkle” out of starlight. Initially developed by astronomers to compensate for atmospheric turbulence and restore the diffraction-limit of ground-based telescopes in real-time, Adaptive Optics can also be applied to improve the tracking and imaging of space objects, including satellites and orbital debris. The technique is also attractive to improve laser communication data rates to satellites as well as pre-compensate uplink laser beams aiming to perturb the orbit of space debris and lower the rate of debris-on-debris collisions.

I will first provide a brief history of adaptive optics and describe how the technique works before discussing a number of adaptive optics projects undertaken at the ANU RSAA Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre. On-going LGS AO instrumentation projects include advanced adaptive optics systems for the 8-metre Gemini and ESO Very Large Telescopes (Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics), the Subaru Telescope (Ground Layer Adaptive Optics) and the 25-metre Giant Magellan Telescope (Laser Tomography Adaptive Optics). Space-related projects include the recent installation of adaptive optics imaging, tracking and pushing systems on the EOS 1.8m laser tracking station and plans to build an Optical Ground Station on Mount Stromlo next year. I will also discuss the merits of various laser technologies used to create artificial guide stars, including my own research on semiconductor guidestar laser.

Bio: Associate Professor Céline d’Orgeville joined the Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics in 2012 to lead Laser Guide Star (LGS) activities undertaken at the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre (AITC) on Mount Stromlo near Canberra. Céline is the Australian Astronomical Optics (AAO)-Stromlo Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics (LGS AO) Group Manager, and the AITC Education Programme Lead. She is also one of two inaugural recipients of an ANU Translational Fellowship aiming to transfer her semiconductor guidestar laser research into the commercial world.

Before ANU, Céline worked at the Gemini Observatory where she led the multi-million dollar Gemini laser program, including the design, fabrication and commissioning of the Gemini North and South LGS facilities in Hawaii (1999-2006) and Chile (2007-2011). The Gemini South Multi-Conjugate AO system, GeMS, uses five sodium LGS to probe the atmospheric turbulence above the Gemini South 8-meter telescope. Céline’s GeMS LGS Facility has held the record for most sodium guide stars in a LGS asterism since its commissioning in 2011.

Céline was the inaugural chair of the RSAA Access and Equity Committee created in 2013. With Nobel Laureate Prof. Brian Schmidt (now ANU Vice-Chancellor) she co-chaired the 2014 edition of the Women in Astronomy Workshop. She has been a steering committee member of the Astronomical Society of Australia Women in Astronomy (WiA) Chapter, which broadened its remit to become the Inclusion Diversity Equity in Astronomy (IDEA) Chapter in 2016. Céline is also an ANU Ally and a member of the ANU Gender Institute (GI) management committee.

Dr Arti Agrawal - 16 October 2019

Speaker: Dr Arti Agrawal, Director of Women in Engineering and IT, Faculty of Engineering and IT, University of Technology, Sydney

Venue: 7 Wally's Walk, rm 149

Time: 12pm

Title: Simulation of photonics and nano-photonic device: challenges and status

Abstract: In this talk I will touch upon a few of the projects I am currently involved in. I will speak about a project on development of plasmonic-polaritonic coupling in 2D materials such as Graphene. Another project I will speak about is development of plasmonic nanohole arrays for biomarker free detection. Stimulate Brillouin Scattering in Fiber amplifiers and the approaches to model and control these. Switching gears I will mention some of the work I am interested in furthering: development of methods and algorithms for 3D photonic device design based on self avoiding walks and other approaches.

Bio: Dr. Agrawal joined UTS in January 2018 with time evenly split between roles of Associate Professor in the School of Electrical and Data Engineering within the Faculty of Engineering and IT, and Director of the Women in Engineering and IT programme. Previously Dr. Agrawal worked at City, University of London from 2005-2017 in the Department of Electrical Engineering. Engineering. She was a Royal Society postdoctoral fellow, and her PhD was on modelling methods for optical components, completed at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi in 2005. Dr. Agrawal’s research interests lie in optics: modelling of photonic components such as solar cells, optical fibers, sensors, lasers etc. She is an expert on numerical methods for optics including the Finite Element Method (FEM). She has written a book on FEM, and edited a book on trends in computational photonics. She is also an Associate Editor for the IEEE Photonics Journal, a Chartered Engineer, Chartered Physicist and Senior Member of the Optical Society and the IEEE. She is passionate about increasing the representation of women in Science and Engineering. She is currently the Associate Vice President of Diversity for the IEEE Photonics Society.

Professor Russell Boyce - 9 October 2019

Speaker: Professor Russell Boyce, Chair, Intelligent Space Systems and Director, University of New South Wales Canberra Space

Venue: Department of Physics and Astronomy Multipurpose Room, 7 Wally's Walk, rm 2.300

Time: 12pm

Title: Intelligent Space Systems - Nice World Leadership Opportunity for Australia

Abstract: Australia is embarking on a new journey, combining home-grown space science and engineering talent with the global shift in the space paradigm towards miniaturised spacecraft with advanced sensors and on-board intelligence, to help meet critical needs and opportunities on Earth.  UNSW Canberra Space is at the forefront of this effort.  As Australia’s largest space capability, the world class team of engineers and researchers are actively contesting the science and technology of Space Situational Awareness (the space congestion problem), are developing innovative space missions to support Defence, and are Australia’s lead for applying the disruption of artificial intelligence to space technology.  The intelligent space systems that are under development represent the significant niche world leadership opportunity for Australia.

Bio: Professor Russell Boyce holds the position of Chair for Intelligent Space Systems and Director of UNSW Canberra Space, and provided the overall leadership in the establishment and growth of UNSW Canberra Space during the period 2014-2019. His technical expertise includes a breadth of scientific and technological understanding, and leverages previous 25+ years in the field of hypersonics R&D. In hypersonics, he grew the hypersonics research group at UNSW Canberra, was DSTO Chair for Hypersonics at UQ from 2007-2013, and developed and led the successful Australian Space Research Program project SCRAMSPACE which included a rocket launched scramjet flight experiment from the Andoya Rocket Range in northern Norway. From 2011-2017 he was the chair of the Australian Academy of Science’s National Committee for Space and Radio Science, and is the chair of the local organising committee of the largest space research conference globally, COSPAR2020, being held in Sydney in 2020. Boyce has played a significant role in the growth of the Australian space sector, including being part of the government’s Expert Review Group for the establishment of the Australian Space Agency. He is also a graduate of the INSEAD Advanced Management Program (2017).

Dr Irina Kabakova - 2 October 2019

Speaker: Dr Irina Kabakova, Senior Lecturer, School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney

Venue: Continuum Room, Level 3, 75 Talavera Road

Time: 12pm

Title: Harnessing photon-phonon interactions for signal processing and biomedical applications

Abstract: Photons (quanta of light) and phonons (quanta of sound) propagate at vastly different speeds and are described by separate laws of physics. Under certain conditions, however, they can interact and exchange energy, leading to a phenomenon called Brillouin light scattering (BLS). In recent years, the physics of opto-acoustic interactions, and BLS in particular, has attracted a lot of attention for applications in signal processing, microwave photonics, data storage and biomedical imaging. In this talk, I will cover my experience working in Nonlinear Phononics Lab (University of Sydney) and Brillouin Imaging Lab (Imperial College London), where the physics of light-sound interactions was applied to achieve single-frequency lasing, frequency comb generation, and fibre-integrated Brillouin spectroscopy, respectively. I will also give an overview of research activities in my new lab, established in 2018 at the University of Technology Sydney that specialises in Brillouin imaging of biomaterials, cells and tissues.

Bio: Dr Irina Kabakova is a Senior Lecturer with the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at UTS since December 2017. Her field of expertise is in the integrated photonics, nonlinear optics, Brillouin light scattering and novel imaging modality – Brillouin microscopy. Irina has over 30 scientific publications, has authored a book chapter and presented numerous invited and postdeadline talks at International Conferences and Workshops. Previously Dr Kabakova held a Research Fellowship with Imperial College London (UK), awarded to her to carry out the development of the first Brillouin endoscopy system. Irina is a passionate advocate for women in STEM and is a committee member Academic Women in Science & UTS network. She is also a President of the Optical Society of America Sydney Local Section established to provide support and networking opportunities to early- and mid-career optical scientists.

Dr Sophie Calabretto - 18 September 2019

Speaker: Dr Sophie Calabretto, Senior Lecturer in Applied Mathematics, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Macquarie University

Venue: 9 Wally's Walk, 102

Time: 12pm

Title:  Boundary layers, and spatially and temporally evolving flows: they’re tricky sometimes

Abstract:  The unsteady flow generated due to the impulsive motion of a torus or sphere is a paradigm for the study of many temporally developing boundary layers. The boundary layer is known to exhibit a finite-time singularity at the equator, which manifests as the ejection of a radial jet, preceded by a toroidal starting vortex pair, which detaches and propagates away from the sphere. The radial jet subsequently develops an absolute instability, which propagates upstream towards the sphere’s surface. This talk will present new results on long-held theories concerning the post-collision steady flow at the boundary-layer/jet interface, and the existence of vortex instabilities in the boundary layer, considering the global stability of the temporally and spatially developing flow in regimes where separation of temporal and spatial scales prohibits the use of classical techniques from hydrodynamic stability theory.

Bio:  Dr Sophie Calabretto is a Senior Lecturer in Applied Mathematics. Her research in fluid dynamics seeks to understand and predict the behaviour of rotating boundary layers and transition to turbulence, exploring fundamental questions in fluid physics, with the potential to impact fields as diverse as aerodynamics, climate science, health, and industry. Her favourite fluids are blood and gin.

Dr Daniel Burgarth - 4 September 2019

Speaker: Dr Daniel Burgarth, Senior Lecturer in Quantum Information Systems, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Macquarie University

Venue: 7 Wally's Walk, 149

Time: 12pm

Title: The Turing Paradox and its applications in Quantum Control

Abstract: In the year of his untimely death, Alan Turing ingeniously discovered a paradox which highlights the counterintuitive role of measurements in Quantum Theory. At the time of Turing, it was dismissed as impossible by theoretical physicists, only to be rediscovered later as the Quantum Zeno Effect. Roughly, the Turing Paradox shows that frequent measurements can freeze any quantum dynamics.

While this is puzzling from a philosophical perspective, recent advances in quantum technology have rejuvenated research on the Turing Paradox. Not only is it now easily realised in experiments, but it is also found to be an invaluable tool for quantum control. Applications range from the protection of quantum coherence against noise to full quantum computation.

These new applications and generalisations of the Turing Paradox required the development of a broader theoretical framework.

In this colloquium I will provide a gentle introduction into the Turing Paradox and an overview of its applications in Quantum Control. I will then focus on a recent experiment which demonstrated different physical manifestations of the Turing Paradox and provide a unifying concept for them. Finally I will highlight some open questions which show that even 65 years after its discovery, the Turing Paradox is still as fresh as if it had been frequently observed ever since.

Bio: Daniel graduated with a degree in Physics from the University of Freiburg in 2004. His Ph.D research at University College London until 2007 explored aspects of quantum state transfer in one-dimensional spin systems. He then moved to the ETH Zurich and Oxford University, where as a postdoc and JRF, he researched in the areas of quantum information and computations. In 2009, he was awarded an EPSRC Fellowship in Theoretical Physics, working in the area of Quantum Control and Estimation at Imperial College London. Daniel held several visiting fellowships at RIKEN and Waseda University, Tokyo, where he has ongoing collaborations about quantum system theory. He moved to Aberystwyth in August 2011, to take up his appointment as Lecturer in Mathematics and Physics. In 2019 he moved to the other side of the Bloch sphere and is now a Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University, Sydney.

Dr Franck Marchis - 9 August 2019

Speaker: Dr Franck Marchis, Senior Planetary Astronomer, SETI Institute, and CSO, Unistellar

Venue: 12 Wally's Walk, 801

Time: 3.30 - 4.30pm

Title: 25 years of adaptive optics in planetary astronomy, from the direct imaging of asteroids to Earth-Like exoplanets

Abstract: Adaptive Optics (AO), a technology that compensates in real time for the atmospheric turbulences on ground-based telescopes has been used in planetary astronomy for 25 years. Saint-Pe et al (1993) is the first article reporting the direct imaging of the asteroid Ceres. Since then AO has flourished and has been installed on 4m-class and in 2000+ on 8m class telescopes allowing astronomers to conduct studies in our solar system, such as the monitoring the volcanic activity of Io (Marchis al., 2000), study Titan's atmosphere of haze and clouds (de Pater et al. 2006), identification of new storms on Neptune (Max et al., 2003), and the measure of the density of asteroids from newly discovered moons (Marchis et al., 2005). Over the last decade, adaptive optics technology has matured. Instruments that can reach the diffraction limit of 8m-class telescopes in visible light (e.g. Zimpol) provide images sufficient to study craters on the surface of main belt asteroids (Vernazza et al. 2017). I will discuss some of the first results of the HARISSA survey for Pallas, Hygiea, Iris and more.

AO technology is also used to study planets and disks outside our own solar system. Thanks to a high contrast achieved with coronagraph the close environment of stars can be directly imaged. Using the Gemini Planet Imager, Macintosh et al (2015) discovered a young self-luminous exo-Jupiter planet orbiting the star 51 Eridani. Structures like gaps in young circumstellar disks (e.g. HD97048, Ginski et al. 2016) have been reported and interpreted as the presence of nascent exoplanets.

The future of AO systems in planetary science is bright. AO systems are key to image Earth-like exoplanets around nearby stars and are part of future telescopes like ELTs, LUVOIR & HABEX. Several near-term privately funded projects are competing to image Earth-like exoplanets in the Alpha Centauri system. The 30-cm space telescope Project Blue (Morse et al., 2018) or the TIKI AO-equipped mid-infrared camera (Blain et al. 2018) could one day give us the image of another pale blue dot around one of these stars.

Bio: Dr Franck Marchis is a French-American planetary astronomer working on the development and use of adaptive optics to study our solar system as well as extrasolar planets (alien planets). He works at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, CA and he is affiliated with the Observatoire de Paris and the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille. ​

Dr Mark Ballico - 22 May 2019

Speaker: Dr Mark Ballico, Section Manager, Mechanical, Thermal and Optical Standards, National Measurement Institute

Venue: Lecture Theatre, Level 1, Australian Hearing Hub

Time:  12pm

Title: The kg is dead: long live the kg.

Abstract: In May 2019, the SI-System, the framework underpinning all measurement in Physics and Chemistry, underwent a fundamental transformation, bringing to fruition a long held dream first voiced over a century ago by Gauss, Maxwell and Planck, of a unified system linked not to physical artefacts, or even to atomic properties, but to immutable constants of nature. Find out the reasons for this momentous change and its impact on measurement science.

Bio:  Dr Ballico completed a PhD in Plasma Physics at the University of Sydney in 1990, and worked as a postdoc in Japan, Germany and the US on thermonuclear fusion. Since 1993 he worked at CSIRO and the NMI, developing primary measurement standards and calibration systems in Temperature, Optical Radiometry and liquid hydrocarbon flow. He is currently  responsible for Australia’s leading measurement standards teams in mass and force, temperature, pressure, gas and liquid flow, optical and laser, and acoustics and vibration measurement. His current research interest is using the revised SI to establish temperature standards linked directly to Boltzmann’s constant

Professor Kim Venn - 15 May 2019

Speaker: Professor Kim Venn, Director, Astronomy Research Centre, University of Victoria, BC, Canada

Venue: 7WW, 2.300 Multipurpose Room

Time: 12pm

Title: Data, Data Analysis, and Machine Learning in Astrophysical Stellar Spectroscopic Surveys

Abstract: To unravel the formation history of the Milky Way, spectroscopic surveys are  currently being carried out to gather chemical abundance ratios and kinematic  information of stars throughout the Galaxy.  High and low resolution spectra  of millions of stars are being collected through US, European, and Australian  surveys, e.g., GALAH.  To have the highest scientific impact, it helps if these
various spectral datasets can be analysed homogeneously.  For this reason,  a range of data-driven analysis tools have been developed, often combining  priors that model the individual spectra and/or the stellar populations.  More recently, machine-learning techniques have also been used to examine  synthetic spectra and train a neural network for very fast and efficient analyses.
The quality of these results is under constant evaluation, e.g., results from  the data-driven approaches are assumed to be drawn from physically sensible  features in the stellar spectra, and synthetic spectra are directly compared to  observed spectra to evaluate the synthetic gap.  I will discuss these methods  and surveys, highlighting recent results in the analysis of our Galaxy.

Bio: Kim Venn is Professor in Physics & Astronomy and Director of the Astronomy Research Centre at the University of Victoria, BC, Canada. She is visiting Australia as an ASTRO 3D Distinguished Visitor and Macquarie University Visiting Professor. Her expertise is on the spectral analysis of stars, and she also has strong interests in astronomical instrumentation, machine learning and other data analysis techniques, and is the Director for an industrial-stream NSERC student training program on New Technologies for Canadian Observatories.

Professor Jim Denier - 10 April 2019

Speaker: Professor Jim Denier, Head of Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Macquarie University

Venue: 7WW 149

Time:  12pm

Title: Fluid mechanics, what's still left to say?

Abstract: Some of you may have heard about fluid mechanics. It’s still hidden in the 02 FORC codes (if you look closely, you’ll find “Fluid Physics” tucked away under Classical Physics). Physics has largely moved on with other pursuits, but fluid mechanics has continued, with the range and variety of application areas still as broad as it was 100 years ago. Many applied mathematicians are interested in fluid mechanics. We use mathematical tools, some of them rather complex, to explore how fluids behave and how we might control them. A good example is in fluid turbulence. As a community we’re now coming to understand much better how turbulence develops and, consequently, how we might design things, such as an aircraft wing, to minimise the impact of turbulence (in the case of an aircraft wing, reducing drag is the aim of the game).

Bio:  I’m one of those applied mathematicians! I was drawn to the subject because it was fun, difficult and challenging. I’ve worked on many different aspects of fluid mechanical behaviour over the years, from incompressible fluid flows, through to how waves are generated when water flows over bumps, or dips, in the sea bed. Most recently I’ve been looking at ways in which to use the physics of fluid to help understand how blood flows through umbilical cords. In this talk, I’ll give you some motivation as to why this might be interesting, even important, I’ll show some real experiments (yes, applied mathematicians sometimes do experiments) and try to explain some of the challenges behind taking the physics of fluids from the lab into a clinical setting.

Professor Hans Van Winckel - 27 March 2019

Speaker: Professor Hans Van Winckel, Institute of Astronomy, KU Leuven University, Belgium

Venue: 7WW 149

Time: 12pm

Title: The Protoplanetary Discs Around Evolved Binaries

Abstract: At the end of their life some binary stars form Keplerian discs of gas and dust with similar properties to the planet-forming discs around young stars (also called protoplanetary discs). Around evolved binaries, these scaled-up versions of protoplanetary discs form as the result of an unconstrained binary interaction process taking place at the end of the  giant branch evolution of the initially most massive star. In this talk we will illustrate how we use different observing strategies and different instruments, covering a wide range of wavelengths, as to dissect the systems in their different components. The ultimate goal of our research is to study the binary interaction processes leading to these systems as we observe today, as well as to come to a good prediction on how these systems will evolve.

Bio: Professor Hans Van Winckel is an expert on the observational studies of the late evolution of solar like stars. As an observational astrophysicist, he combines multi-wavelength data obtained with different observational techniques (photometry, spectroscopy, interferometry) to gain insight into the internal structure, nucleosynthesis and binary interaction processes in these stars. He is the programme director of the Master of Astronomy and Astrophysics, at KU Leuven and leads the Mercator observatory at Roque de los Muchachos observatory in Spain.

Professor Eric Emsellem - 13 February 2019

Speaker: Professor Eric Emsellem, European Southern Observatory, Garching

Venue: 9WW 102

Time: 12pm

Title: Early-type galaxies: climbing to the top of the mass ladder

Abstract: Nearby galaxies display a range of morphologies, sizes, masses, which are the results of a complex set of formation and evolution processes. In this talk, I will focus on early-type galaxies, often split in two classes, the ellipticals and lenticulars, which contain about half of all the stars in our local Universe. I will review our current knowledge of how they form, what are the most important mechanisms which shaped them, and illustrate how our understanding of these objects changed over the last decade via the use of simulations and integral-field spectroscopy. I will then focus on the most massive galaxies, and report on results from numerical simulations and an observational campaign conducted with the MUSE spectrograph, which led to some interesting surprises.

Bio: Eric Emsellem has been at ESO Garching for 10 years. Until recently, Eric was Head of the Office for Science, and is now on a well-deserved 1-yr research sabbatical. Eric had both a theoretical and Engineering background (Paris, Lyon, Cornell) but soon turned to astronomy with a PhD from CRAL-Lyon (France). Eric has contributed or led observational campaigns of nearby galaxies, has developed new tools applied to the dynamical modelling of galaxies and led some efforts to conduct hydrodynamical simulations of galaxies, to further understand how star formation is triggered and proceed.

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